THE International Performance Review (IPR) has commended the government for sustaining the momentum since the Economic Transformation Programme's (ETP) launch in 2010.
IPR is a platform to evaluate the results of the initiatives implemented under the National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) and Strategic Reform Initiatives (SRIs).
"Malaysia's ETP has distinguished itself from other transformation programmes in the world, particularly in its use of technology throughout its initiatives. The involvement and accountability of senior government officials is exceptional and helps ensure further success," remarked panellist Michael Hershman, who is president of the Fairfax Group.
The panel comprised independent third-party experts ranging from international development organisations to large-scale multinational corporations as well as representatives from other governments.
The 2012 IPR session was held over three days in February, the second time the panel has convened to review the ETP and its progress.
The panel also noted the progress in implementing structural reforms under the SRIs which can be arduous and time consuming, specifically the gazetting of the Minimum Wage Order and the enforcement of the Competition Act, liberalisation of the services sub-sector and professional entry into Malaysia.
On areas for further progress, it said these would include embedding the "ETP culture" into the civil service, increasing emphasis on underlying structural reforms, qualitative assessments and perceptions feedback from the public.
"Perhaps the time has come for the government to consider whether its final objectives are too modest.
"For example, the government may want to mull over bringing forward the 2020 target of raising the gross national income per capita to US$15,000 (RM46,500) to an earlier date."
It also urged the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) to take a broader look at what the government can really accomplish over the next seven years, including re-examining the effectiveness and efficiency of the ETP and GTP as a package.
Hershman felt that the NKEAs should focus on achieving specific reforms rather than statistics, such as average daily trading value on Bursa Malaysia and the value of new initial public offerings which may be dependent on external factors.
On the involvement of nine ministries in vocational education and training, the panel highlighted the need for leadership by a central agency.
Sir Michael Barber, who is chief education adviser of Pearson PLC, suggested that Pemandu also see the success of women enterpreneurs, especially the businesses they created and the contributions they made to their communities.
On oil, gas and energy, the panel cautioned that the drive towards clean energy should be based not only on environmental concerns but also on strong financial footing.
Many countries have lost substantial investments as a result of rushing into clean energy without a clear strategy and it is imperative that Malaysia avoids this.
Meanwhile, another panellist Ombeni Sefue, who is the chief secretary of Tanzania, said his country is embarking on its own transformation programme and, to a large extent, is inspired by what is happening in Malaysia.
"The system that you have in place proves that if you design your transformation programme properly, set your priorities and targets right and translate them into programmes of action, it is possible to get the results that you want."