Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Visualising Malaysian Data

Despite budget cutbacks and a laundry list of statistics to compile, DOS has managed to launch some new data extraction and visualisation tools. I’m still playing around with them, but the fact that they’ve managed to do this on top of all the other stuff they’re working on should be acknowledged. Even if the image links are currently bust, I quibble not.

State of the Households II

I was at the launch ceremony at Khazanah Research yesterday, and while the report doesn’t present anything new, it compiles all the various statistics domestically available into one document to present a holistic picture of Malaysian households.

You can download the report here.

Oh, and I love the new interactive socio-economic map of Malaysia!

Thanks go to @Inequality_MYS for the invite.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Malaysia’s Government Contingent Liabilities

A fast one (seems like all I have time for these days are fast ones), on contingent liabilities (excerpt):

Analysts say Govt’s contingent liabilities likely to rise

...In recent years, the Government has relied on what is called contingent liabilities, or off-the-books debt, to fund major development projects. Big-ticket items such as the rail lines cost billions of ringgit, and with Government debt close to its self-imposed ceiling of 55% of gross domestic product, the use of special-purpose vehicles (SPVs) that take the debt burden off the Government’s books has been almost the preferred way of funding such mega projects.

Cumulatively, contingent liabilities amount to RM178bil worth of guaranteed debt by the Government. With government debt at RM630.5bil at the end of last year, the off-the-books debt that is guaranteed by the Government is worth 28% of the public sector’s total debt.

...Structuring debt in such a way is by design, according to economist Datuk Dr R. Thillainathan, who is the former president of the Malaysian Economic Association....

Monday, August 15, 2016

Apples, Oranges and A Whole Fruit Orchard

On Bloomberg last week (excerpt):

Bloated Malaysia Civil Service Presents Headache for Najib

...Malaysia’s civil service employs 1.6 million people, or about 11 percent of the labor force. The jobs provide stability and security, including for ethnic Malays who are the majority of the population. Now the bloated bureaucracy presents a challenge to Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Najib, whose ruling coalition Barisan Nasional has been in power for nearly 60 years with the help of the Malay vote, has pledged to gradually narrow a budget deficit the country has been running since the Asian financial crisis. The commodity-driven $296-billion economy is expected to grow at the slowest pace in seven years in 2016, with lower oil prices eating into revenue.

But trimming the public workforce to improve the government’s coffers is difficult. While Najib has survived a year of political turmoil over funding scandals, he needs the support of Malays to win the next election due by 2018. His party, the United Malays National Organisation, has for decades propagated policies that provide favorable access to education, jobs and housing for Malays and indigenous people, known collectively as Bumiputeras....

I’ve written about this before – the statistics on civil servic headcounts across the world are fraught with measurement errors. Malaysia’s civil service looks “bloated” because we include many categories of workers under the civil service (such as the armed forces, state and local government workers) which other countries do not. In Japan for instance, the “official” civil service is only a quarter of all government workers.

Not exactly apples to apples.