Saturday, 15 October 2011

Shangri La :-Gross National Happiness Economy

Recent Malaysia Budget 2012 is basically a continuation of the practice over the past few years; Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak pledged to boost help for the poor to cushion the impact of inflation by promising it'll reduce the impact of rising costs on Malaysians.

The generosity of the Government reminds me of Bhutan, gross national happiness (GNH). In Bhutan, the economic challenge is not growth in gross national product, but in gross national happiness (GNH).

Bhutan's rugged geography fostered the rise of a hardy population of farmers and herdsmen, and helped to foster a strong Buddhist culture, closely connected in history with Tibet. The population is sparse, roughly 700,000 people on a territory the size of The Netherlands, with agricultural communities nestled in deep valleys and a few herdsmen in the high mountains.

Bhutan's economy of agriculture and monastic life remained self-sufficient, poor, and isolated until recent decades, when a series of remarkable monarchs began to guide the country towards technological modernisation (roads, power, modern healthcare and education), international trade (notably with neighbouring India) and political democracy.

Part of Bhutan's GNH revolves around meeting basic needs: improved healthcare, reduced maternal and child mortality, greater educational attainment and better infrastructure, especially electricity, water and sanitation.

This focus on material improvement aimed at meeting basic needs makes sense for a country at Bhutan's relatively low income level. For the world's poorest countries, their biggest and most compelling challenge is to meet citizens' basic needs.

Bhutan has many things going its way. It will be able to increase exports of clean, run-of-the-river hydropower to India, thereby earning foreign exchange in a manner that is sustainable and that can fill government coffers to fund education, health care, and infrastructure.

The country is also intent on ensuring that the benefits of growth reach all, regardless of region or income. The key for Bhutan is to regard GNH as an enduring quest, rather than as a simple checklist.

How about Malaysia?

Malaysia too adapted to gross national happiness in their budget allocation since it is a people-friendly budget, which is to look after the people's welfare. However, something is still missing in the completely people-friendly and politically correct budget. I feel that Budget 2012 fails to address and solve core national issues.

Malaysia is a country whose public policies are those that reward inclusion. We promise free education and universal health coverage and we subsidise a number of important goods. I think we in right track, however I believe it’s important for the government to create opportunity where none had existed before and to help those who otherwise cannot help themselves.

Patently,  Malaysia’s national budget every year are the permanent dole system that the civil service has since become, the welfare state system enjoyed by a privileged few from womb to tomb, the subsidy syndrome, the dependency syndrome. It is a “Spoon Fed” budget.

The formula of spending more and more stimulus measures to boost the economy could no longer work. The budget presentation is like injecting a booster. This means every time a booster is injected, like a drug; people start to crave more and more until they cannot stop. When government don't give, People start doing violent things. If you put it in the way of not giving the drug to the person who has been addicted to it, you would see the strange behaviour of a subject involved.

When the administrative expenses keep increasing, the management cost will increase year by year after pay rise for civil servants. How could the national economy prosper when management cost is compressing the cost of development?

We have to relook at the Budget snapshots and ask whether if it will help people in long term. There's absolutely none that addresses the reforms and provides outlines of long term problem solving.

Despite having the potential to become an economic powerhouse, Malaysia would face overwhelming challenges if the country did not upgrade human capital as well as strengthen governance and institutional capacity.

Firstly, it does not carry out the direction and principles of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), which is set to turn the country into a high-income economy. How are we going to achieve the goal if only assistance is given to reduce burden without trying to solve the root cause.

The government should adopt the concept of “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”

And I hope these plans are well enough promoted so that all people will understand the opportunities before them. As for those who still want to be given fish, I suggest that they go on a diet.

Note: - Thinking staying in Shangri La Hotel in pursue of Happyness

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