By Emily Lowe
PEMUDAH or Pasukan Petugas Khas Permudahcara Perniagaan (Special Task Force to Facilitate Business) is a high-powered task force set up to address bureaucracy in business-government dealings. The idea was the brainchild of former Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, initiated during his annual speech to the civil service in January, 2007. In short, the inception of PEMUDAH was to effect greater improvement in the way government regulates businesses, enhances policies and revamps public sector delivery systems, if and when the need arises.
A Customer-Oriented Delivery System for Both the Public and Private Sectors
Perak was the first state in Malaysia to establish a state-level PEMUDAH in November 2007, following a proposal by the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers – FMM (Perak). While PEMUDAH Malaysia looks after federal policies, PEMUDAH Perak’s main focus is on state policies, which are sometimes raised to the Federal Government, if necessary.
PEMUDAH Perak encourages participation of all district offices, local authorities, government bodies, quasi-government bodies and other regulatory bodies in the state along with the private sector, with the aim of improving the state’s delivery system.
Vision and Values
Following guidelines from Putrajaya, PEMUDAH Perak also aims to achieve a delivery system for both the public and private sector that is not only customer-oriented but innovative and proactive, as is globally bench-marked.
PEMUDAH Perak looks forward to a proactive collaboration between the public and private sectors and supportive governing bodies based on reasonable business terms and conditions. The purpose is to intensify services integrity and create awareness of issues faced by the business community in the state.
Terms of Reference
- To review the status of public services delivery system in terms of processes, procedures, laws and human resources and to improve upon these.
- To benchmark the good practices in the public and private sectors.
- To co-ordinate and organise programmes amongst public service agencies in order to reinforce the competitiveness of Malaysia, particularly Perak.
- To address the relevant issues on public sector delivery system raised at State Exco meetings.
Composition of Committee
PEMUDAH Perak is co-chaired by the State Secretary, Dato’ Abdul Puhat bin Mat Nayan, representing the public sector, and FMM (Perak) Chairman, Dato’ Gan Tack Kong, representing the private sector. The Secretariat is made up of the State Economic Planning Unit (UPEN) and FMM Perak. It is representative of the composition at federal level where the Chief Secretary and President of FMM (Malaysia) co-chair.
Other members include the State Financial Officer, Deputy State Secretary and Ipoh Mayor from the public sector; and Dato’ Francis Lee (REHDA Perak Chairman), Lee Chee Meng (Perak Chinese Chamber of Commerce or PCCCI), Peter Yates (CEO Carsem), Chairman Leong Hua Kooi of Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) Perak chapter and Dato’ Muhammad Muhiyuddin (Perak Malay Chamber of Commerce), among others from the private sector. The committee meets bimonthly on the first Friday of even months.
In 2011, PEMUDAH Perak underwent a major restructuring exercise. A drastic move was taken to open up membership to individual companies, instead of just business associations and chambers in Perak.
As part of its restructure, six focus groups were formed:
- Industrial Park Management Committee (IPMC)
- Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
- Human Resources
- Permits and Licenses for Business
- Properties and Land Matters
- Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
A seventh focus group has been proposed – Security (encompassing both physical and online threats). These focus groups are jointly chaired by representatives from both the public and private sectors, all of whom are members of PEMUDAH Perak.
Co-chairman of PEMUDAH Perak, Dato’ Gan Tack Kong, is happy that the newly revamped task force is finally meeting its objectives and resolving issues.
PEMUDAH, in general, uses the global index of “Ease of Doing Business” by the World Bank Group as a benchmark to check on the level of ease to conduct business in the country. Malaysia ranked 23 out of 183 economies indexed in 2011 but jumped five positions in 2012 to rank at number 18.
PEMUDAH Perak refers to key indicators set by the World Bank Group to improve on the ease of doing business at state level. These indicators include starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity supply, registering property, getting credit, protecting investors, taxes, cross-border trading, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.
According to Dato’ Gan, initially it was tough going for PEMUDAH Perak and the mechanism of streamlining the delivery system in the state was slow, as there was no proper system in place. “It wasn’t easy to change the mindset of those in the public service to see why a revamp was required,” he said.
However, the task force has been receiving full co-operation from the State Government since Dato’ Abdul Puhat, the new State Secretary came on board in December 2011. While addressing state policies is a manageable task, decisions that involve Federal Government policies are still difficult to reach. “One major difficulty is seeking Federal allocation for state projects,” said Gan.
Work in Progress
The plight of the Perak Pottery Association, which is currently facing an energy crisis, is of major concern to PEMUDAH Perak. Businesses in the pottery industry are grossly affected by the inability to procure good quality fuel at a reasonable price. As a result, some companies folded as they were unable to sustain their business due to the rising cost of fuel.
The Ceramic Park Industrial Area in Chepor, which was once only open to those in the ceramics business, is now occupied by businesses from other sectors as well. Hence, the park is now home to a mixed industry, which was not the original intention.
The problem faced by the Perak Pottery Association affects the whole country as nearly 80 per cent of ceramic products in the country are manufactured in Perak.
The focus group on Human Resources proposes to establish a One-Stop-Centre (OSC), probably at the Immigration Department in Meru Raya. This is to facilitate the recruitment of foreign labour. Companies are currently forced to make countless trips to Putrajaya to process permits to hire foreign employees.
The focus group on Permits and Licensing, headed by Ipoh Mayor, Dato’ Hj Roshidi Hashim and Dato’ Francis Lee (REDHA Perak Chairman), has proposed that the lengthy licensing procedures be streamlined and checklists shortened. The Ipoh City Council has been tasked to provide the benchmark for other local councils to follow.
Since its establishment in November 2007, PEMUDAH Perak has reduced the cost of doing business and enhanced trade and business opportunities in the state, besides improving the public delivery system. Issues resolved include the speeding up of AP approval for the export of rock materials under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, speeding up the renewal application of mining lease for Kaolin (M) Sdn Bhd, which had been pending for two years and the establishment of the State IPMC (Industrial Park Management Committee).
Dato’ Gan is particularly proud of IPMC’s performance thus far, especially in the districts of Ipoh, Taiping, Manjung, Tapah, Gerik, Kerian, Teluk Intan and Batu Gajah.
Each committee is required to meet four times a year to address infrastructure issues that may crop up in their respective industrial estates. Local councils have been utilising the IPMC platform to lobby for Federal grants through Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA).
Shining examples would be the Federal grant disbursed to industrial parks in Perak under the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2015). Tasek Industrial Estate in Ipoh received RM3.1 million for the upgrading of road and drainage, the Ceramic Park Industrial Area in Chepor received RM1.8 million for road works, while Kamunting Raya Industrial Estate in Taiping received RM3.4 million for road and drainage works.
With IPMC in place, PEMUDAH Perak is able to, within the shortest period of time, identify industrial land that has been left idle, and link these to interested investors quickly. This saves potential investors time and money.
On a more basic level, the approval of “Halal” certificates now requires only one month compared to three months previously, while land registration with the Office of Land and Mines now takes only one working day.
Even though the main objective of PEMUDAH, at both national and state levels, is to facilitate business, PEMUDAH Perak welcomes feedback from the general public on issues pertaining to streamlining of delivery systems in the public sector.
Mohd Jaffrey b Mohd Zainol, the Assistant Director for Investment and Industry at the State Economic Planning Unit, who also leads the Secretariat of PEMUDAH Perak, pointed out that one of the challenges faced by the task force is the lack of input from the public.
Go to http://www.perak.gov.my/index.php/component/content/article?id=188 for your complaint form (E-Aduan). This E-Aduan system is part of PEMUDAH Perak’s plan to move all paperwork online.
Jaffrey hopes to see one-stop centres (similar to MBI’s) being established at all local councils. In time, the public sector will be setting a benchmark for the private sector to follow. The private sector, incidentally, has been very supportive in this aspect. “The proactive stance adopted by the business fraternity is simply remarkable,” he concluded.