Infrastructure Policy Watch: Malaysia gears up for Budget and Australia’s new infrastructure plan

- What hints for the future does Malaysia’s Pre-Budget report offer?
- What could other countries learn from the 2021 Australia Infrastructure Plan?

Malaysian Parliament in Kuala Lumpur. Image credit: Shutterstock
Malaysian Parliament in Kuala Lumpur. Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Updated: 07 September, 2021
  • Author: Chris Richards, ICE Policy Director
Chris Richards
In this fortnightly blog, ICE's Director of Policy Chris Richards looks at developing policy landscape for infrastructure, what decisions mean, and their implications, so that infrastructure professionals can play their part in shaping the discussion.

Malaysian government publishes 2022 Pre-Budget Statement

The Malaysian government has published its first-ever Pre-Budget Statement in advance of the Budget in October, in an attempt to improve the transparency and confidence around decision making. This follows Ismail Sabri Yaakob becoming prime minister in August 2021, the third prime minister since the start of 2020.

The Statement reviews progress on Budget 2021 initiatives, including one-off initiatives and stimulus packages linked to managing the Covid-19 pandemic. The status of all initiatives are publicly shared.

The Pre-Budget Statement also reinforces that the forthcoming Budget will align with the five-year 12th Malaysia Plan (delayed), the first Plan as part of the new Malaysia Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (SPV2030). Both have a focus on delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, with SPV2030 outlining the role of infrastructure development as part of its strategic objectives and initiatives.

ICE’s view

The 12th Malaysia Plan is delayed, but seen within the context of ongoing political changes and the Covid-19 pandemic, is not unexpected.

The Plan is important to ensure early action in delivering SPV2030. The Pre-Budget Statement bridges the gap and seeks to reassure that the focus remains on overcoming the pandemic and delivering SPV2030.

The previous Malaysian national vision, Malaysia 2020, was featured in the Enabling Better Infrastructure programme as a good example of how to establish a national vision that subsequently drives infrastructure investment.

2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan highlights long-term drivers of infrastructure investment

Infrastructure Australia has published the 2021 Australian Infrastructure Plan.

The Plan outlines a number of reforms and initiatives to deliver against Infrastructure Australia’s vision for 2036. Underpinning these reforms is an ongoing focus on the long-term drivers of infrastructure outlined in the plan as “population growth, adaptation to climate risk, building resilience, stimulating employment, driving economic productivity, embracing a diversity of places and social equity”.

The Plan is ambitious and responds to the 2019 Infrastructure Audit and the 2020 Infrastructure beyond Covid-19 report. Both of these also informed the 2021 Infrastructure Priority List earlier this year.

Developed with input from more than 5,500 people, the Plan also embeds sustainability within it through the use of a quadruple bottom line of social, economic, environmental and governance outcomes, as part of the assessment of reforms.

Priority areas for reform highlighted in the plan are:

  • Place-based outcomes for communities — unlocking the potential of every location.
  • Sustainability and resilience — balancing infrastructure outcomes in an uncertain future.
  • Industry productivity and innovation — facilitating a step change in productivity.
  • Transport — delivering an integrated network.
  • Energy — enabling an affordable transition to a net zero future.
  • Water — prioritising safety and security.
  • Telecommunications and digital — ensuring equity in an era of accelerating digitalisation.
  • Social infrastructure — supporting economic prosperity and quality of life.
  • Waste — accelerating Australia’s transition to a circular economy.

Later in the year, Infrastructure Australia will also publish three linked documents, Regional Strengths and Infrastructure Gaps, A Pathway to Infrastructure Resilience (we looked at its new guidelines on resilience here) and Transforming Infrastructure Delivery (similar to the forthcoming UK Transforming Infrastructure Performance refresh).

ICE’s view

Australia’s strategic infrastructure planning process was highlighted in the Enabling Better Infrastructure programme as an example of best practice for all countries, particularly federal ones. The 2021 Infrastructure Australia Plan further evolves the process and serves as a solid blueprint for other countries on how to develop robust infrastructure interventions based on sound evidence and continuous improvement.

The Plan includes new approaches, such as an implementation pathway for reform owners, so there is clarity on who needs to take leadership to deliver infrastructure that serves the public.

There is a lot that others can learn from the Plan and its subsequent implementation, including the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission as it prepares its second infrastructure assessment, the UK government as it conducts the National Infrastructure Commission’s Framework Review, and the next Canadian government, if it takes forward plans to create the first Canadian Infrastructure Assessment.


In case you missed it...

Check back in a fortnight for the next edition of the ICE's Infrastructure Policy Watch. You can also sign up to ICE Informs to get a monthly digest of the latest policy activities from ICE, including calls for evidence to support our ongoing advice to policymakers.

Top