FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
10 September 2015

***
Press Release: Malaysia made improvements in the global Open Budget Survey 2015. (However we are still behind Papua New Guinea and Indonesia).

10 September 2015, Kuala Lumpur – The Open Budget Survey is an international survey to assess the transparency and accountability of government budgeting, including in the spaces for public participation and the strength of supreme audit institutions and legislature in overseeing the process. The survey covers 102 countries, and it uses
internationally accepted criteria developed by multilateral organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI).

The entire global research process took approximately 18 months between March 2014 and September 2015 and involved about 300 experts in 102 countries. For Malaysia, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) were given the chance to contribute to the final global index by conducting the research themselves. Three elements were measured: Budget Transparency, Public Participation, and Budget Oversight by Audit and by Legislature, with the official results released today. This year, Malaysia scored highest in the Budget Oversight category, particularly in terms of the oversight provided by the Auditor General. At 67 out of 100, this score indicates that our Auditor General Office is performing adequately by global standards. However we scored very low for Budget Oversight by Legislature, obtaining only 15 out of 100. Budget oversight by the legislature in Malaysia is considered as weak.

Malaysia’s score for Budget Transparency was 46 out of 100, which is an improvement from a 2012 score of 39. However, this is still a relatively low score and a score of 46 means that the Malaysian government provides only limited information to the public. Malaysia scored even worse for Public Participation, obtaining just 12 out of a possible 100. The Government of Malaysia is considered as weak when it comes to providing the public with opportunities to engage in the budget process.

Commenting on the results, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, CEO of IDEAS, said: “This is a mixed results. We improved in Budget Transparency by seven points and we did well in Oversight by the Auditor General’s Office. But we scored low for the others. The improvement in transparency score may please the government but the improvement by seven points is hardly substantial. There are still many transparency steps that need to be done by the government if we want to become much better.”

Wan Saiful added: “I am particularly worried about how low we scored when it comes to Public Participation and Oversight by Legislature. Even Papua New Guinea did better than us in both these categories. The scores indicate that our parliamentarians hardly have a chance to influence how taxpayers money is spent, despite the Budget Speech
being a major event of our parliamentary calendar. And it is particularly bad when it comes to Public Participation. We scored 12 out of 100, which is just two points above Timor Leste and half of what was scored by Papua New Guinea.”

To improve, Wan Saiful suggested: “We must improve our performance so that the public have greater trust in the budgeting processes. We have outlined nine proposals that can catalyse improvements. For example, the government should produce a pre-budget statement and a mid-year review. The government should also start holding legislative
hearings on the budgets of specific ministries, departments, and agencies at which testimony from the public is heard. And the Parliament should also establish a specialised budget research office to serve parliamentarians. These are just some of the steps that can be taken by the government and I am confident that once they are done,our
performance will improve.”

###

About IDEAS

IDEAS is Malaysia’s first think-tank dedicated to promoting market-based solutions to public policy challenges. We are an independent not-for-profit organisation. As a crosspartisan think tank, we work across the political spectrum. Our purpose is to advance market-based principles, and we are not bound by party politics, race or religion. Our mission is to improve the level of understanding and acceptance of public policies based on the principles of rule of law, limited government, free markets and free individuals. For more information, please visit http://ideas.org.my/

###

Media enquiries:
IDEAS (+60-3) 6201 8896/ 8897
Sri Murniati, unie@ideas.org.my

Leave a comment