The government must tackle endemic corruption, and prevent “leakages” from a massive stimulus plan, if it wants to attract investment during the global downturn, a graft watchdog said today.
Corruption has become a headline issue as deputy premier Najib Razak prepares to be sworn into power in coming days, with promises to overhaul the ruling party by eradicating vote-buying and cronyism.
“In time of recession like this, it is absolutely essential we deal with corruption,” Transparency International Malaysia president Paul Low said at an anti-corruption conference.
“We want to make sure the stimulus package goes to the people and contracts go only to those who are able to deliver. The openness of procurement (procedures) should be there,” he said.
Analysts have raised concerns over the RM60-billion-dollar stimulus package unveiled earlier in March, questioning whether it will avert recession and how cleanly it will be implemented.
Need to reduce cost of doing business
Low said the only way to woo investors in an ultra-competitive environment was to reduce the cost of doing business and cut red-tape by ensuring business procedures are transparent.
Despite the new stimulus plan, and a RM7-billion-dollar stimulus package announced last year, the government has said the economy could still contract by up to 1.0 percent in 2009 and private sector forecasts are even gloomier.
Cabinet minister Bernard Dompok, who opened the conference, said the government was aware of the urgent need to tackle corruption and that Najib “has embarked on a pilgrimage to rid the ruling party of corruption.”
“The urgency is certainly there. I have spoken about preventing leakages. At a time when the entire (global economy) is going down, we have to reform,” he said.
Source : Malaysiakini