By Sharan Raj (Central Committee, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM))
Most economists agree that the government needs to pump cash into the economy to cushion the recession triggered by COVID-19.
For instance, Putrajaya needs to stop reviving construction-based mega projects and execute community-based micro projects to put money in people’s pockets.
Mega projects benefit certain large corporations, some outsourcing SMEs and a few capitalists. This may boost the GDP but it does not create jobs nor create a stable income for the people. Instead of training and paying local workers, construction corporations increase their profits by overworking and underpaying foreign labourers.
Putrajaya should instead give money to communities to spend on their respective housing areas, community space, local infrastructure, hospitals and schools. As an example: establish a committee within a school consisting of parents, teachers, management and supporting staff to identify immediate fixes and improvements for the school. Putrajaya could then fund the school committee to hire people in their respective communities who had lost their jobs or income to execute the micro projects. Such schemes can even be emulated nationwide at Orang Asli settlements, neighbourhoods, hospitals, PPR, Felda settlements, ‘Nelayan’ villages etc.
Open-ended community-led micro projects will solve local problems such as collapsing school roofs, damaged football fields, absence of streetlights etc. These measures will put money in the pockets of the most vulnerable in exchange for improving communities while waiting for the economy and job market to recover.
In addition, right-wing career politicians must also stop demanding grandiose ‘Majilis’ to honour themselves, as lots of public funds are spent to uplift ‘Yang Berhormat’ instead of uplifting the communities. Instead, the elected representatives must sit in the community meeting to help facilitate government bureaucracies.