19 October 2007

Public delivery system much faster now



KUALA LUMPUR: Many were sceptical when the government named a high-powered task force in February to improve the public delivery system within six months.

Now, eight months later, the results are showing.

The 23-member Special Task Force To Facilitate Business (Pemudah) was given the herculean task of undoing decades of shoddy service in the public sector. It was also tasked with incorporating some of the better practices in the private sector into government service.

Pemudah has made a difference, as seen by noticeable improvements in the delivery of services by certain key government departments.

It has cut red tape and reduced the time taken to process certain applications from weeks and months to days and even mere hours (see table).
Most notably, processes at the Immigration Department have been sped up.

Applications and renewals of passports for Malaysian citizens, for instance, now takes just five hours at the most compared with the whole-day process previously.

Expatriates can now have their work permits extended to five and 10 years, compared with three years previously.

In addition, their work passes can now be approved within a week.

Over at the Inland Revenue Board, taxpayers using the e-filing system this year and who overpaid will now get their excess payments refunded automatically between 14 and 30 days, without referring to previous years’ payments.

Those using the Property Evaluation and Assessment System will also have the analysis on their property in two days — compared with 26 days previously — all through the Internet, with only five steps.

The task force has also launched the Business Licensing Electronic Support Services (BLESS), an online one-stop centre to facilitate approvals and applications for business licences, promising to shorten the time taken for the processes.

According to a study by the government’s Implementation and Co-ordination Unit, the entire process involved in starting a manufacturing business took 133 to 180 days, but a “fast-track” process being implemented in stages would take 111 to 146 days.

Thanks to BLESS, going to Tenaga Nasional Bhd, the water authorities and Telekom Malaysia separately for development orders will be a thing of the past when everything can be done under one roof, cutting the approval time for a manufacturing licence from 59 days to 23.

Pemudah also has sparked changes at the Companies Commission of Malaysia, helping to expedite processes for setting up new businesses.

Approval for new business licences has been shortened from three days to an hour; renewal of registration from one day to 15 minutes; approval of company name and incorporation, change of name and commencement of business from five days to one; registration of deeds of trust from 14 days to five days; and registration of prospectuses from 14 days to three days.

In a statement, Pemudah said it had set up a website to which the public could send its views and suggestions on ways to improve doing business in Malaysia.

It has pledged to respond to all feedback sent to the website at www.pemudah.com.my within three days.

It has also promised that no feedback would be passed over or rejected.

Pemudah, co-chaired by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hussein and Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers president Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon, comprises senior civil servants and board members from the private sector.

Westports Malaysia executive chairman Tan Sri G. Gnan-alingam, a Pemudah member, said the achievements were largely due to the intervention of Mohd Sidek.

He said, ultimately, it was for the public to assess the success of the changes instituted.

Sidek, at a recent press briefing, said it was imperative that the delivery system be improved, adding that a majority of the country’s 1.2 million civil servants wanted to help make improvements.

“Decisions are like a mantra,” he said.

“They should be implemented and monitored or else they are no good.”

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