Budget 2014: What’s the Green Thing in it?

NajibGreenBudget

Well since this quote has been used so many times in various journal and keynote addresses of various conferences, there it is again to remind perhaps this budget shall take into consideration of that target, meanwhile yes I am in the midst of breaking the myth of the statement made above, don’t you find it is funny that it is emission intensity based on GDP rather than absolute CO2 level?

Anyways, besides speaking about ‘funds allocated for green budget’ sounds like a contradicting thing when out of so many other highlights and details of funds, there are only little shallow emphasize made here for the ‘green budget’, that any other aspect of the overall fund could just overwrite the significance of such green effort. Full detail of Budget2014 HERE. So what are the ‘green thing’ about it?

Environmental Conservation and Resource Management

154. The Government is committed to providing a clean, safe and healthy environment for the present and future generations. Among the programmes to be implemented are the National Carbon Reporting Programme or MyCarbon by the corporate sector, establishment of a National Conservation Trust Fund for conservation of degraded areas and permanent forest reserves, as well as natural resource management.

I don’t know whether I should be clapping or laughing for this. I acknowledge the good intention on carbon footprint program, but seriously? I don’t think we are prepared for such mechanism, it is simply not realistic when we don’t have a reliable local database of extensive schedule of items or materials with corresponding carbon values. My goodness, do we think that the public is already well aware of some basics of carbon footprint? Most do not even know how to calculate their own electricity bill, same goes to corporate and government servants I suppose.

I briefly checked up on this and found that MyCarbon aka national corporate GHG reporting is currently on the drafting stage I suppose. While the framework is already laid out, I am highly in doubt in terms of reporting and reliability of communication, as sometimes GHG report could direct translate into confidential matters of the company. To execute this program itself, can you imagine the amount of carbon auditors needed and where do we get these pool of talents and who monitors them?

155. To strengthen the development of green technology, the Government will provide investment tax allowance for the purchase of green technology equipment and income tax exemption on the use of green technology services and system.

Well, this thing has been going on for years for now and it’s not even a new item. In fact, what seems to be scary for me, is that despite how positively it sounds, the process of application and flow of work is somewhat not business friendly and there seems to be an uncertainty in the work of scope of which department or ministry should this be under, most likely to be confused between MIDA and ST. Perhaps even we have this good effort for years, the effectiveness of ministry shall be to the deserving standards to deliver the expected KPIs needed.

156. To encourage a green lifestyle, Malaysian Green Foundation will be established to promote and enhance use of green technology by the corporate sector and the general public. For this, a launching grant of RM15mil will be provided to the Foundation.

I am, deeply terrified. The idea of establishing something to promote and enhance green tech etc is NOT new at all. In fact the confusing thing is that it seems a lot of ministries and implementing arms of it are doing different programs but somehow they do not reach to a common conclusion or goal. The awareness of green tech has been years now, KETTHA’s CETREE unit does RE and EE awareness to school syllabus and trains up teacher, implement green school awards etc.. (and I have partnered with them before and I highly doubt the effectiveness of such)

SEDA has been doing a lot of awareness of its FiT scheme.. Energy Commission is going around to promote the enforcement of Energy Star base approval rates for the 5 domestic electrical appliances soon, GreenTechMalaysia also doing it’s various awareness campaigns. This move raises the doubts towards the current implementing arms of awareness around the realm of sustainable development/green tech. So, now why another new “Malaysia Green Foundation” and with the RM15mil promote and enhance use of green tech. That’s the curiosity that’s killing me and I need to find out the answer soon on what basis this sum could be allocated to before judging too early.

158. To improve efficiency and electricity energy conservation, the Government will undertake energy audits as well as install retrofit in ministry buildings. For 2014, the Ministry of Health; Ministry of Youth and Sports; Ministry of Human Resources; Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism; and the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry have been identified for the implementation of the initiative. In addition, the Government will install solar panels on rooftops of ministry buildings as well as replace existing lights with LED lights in stages.

This is NOT New as well. The move to showcase government office to take the lead in going ‘green’ has been years too. Energy Commission is also enforcing the 24 degree policy for the AC set point in all government offices (and yes I doubt the implementation too). In fact, the implementation of retrofits to government buildings packages can be highly doubt as well, for not going through value engineering and just doing it for the sake of policy etc..

Now it has become a laughing stock instead, just look at the recent news to PM’s official residence is racking up RM2.3mil annually. You don’t even need to talk about energy efficient but preventing energy wastage seems to be what we all lacking of here. How do we have public trust over such ‘green’ effort? Overall I do not sense the seriousness of government buildings going ‘green’ if you ask me. My goodnesss don’t even try telling me about how green Putrajaya is.

Conclusion

If you ask me again what’s the green thing about Budget 2014. It’s either not impressive at all, or equivalent to nothing at all! While I am truly sorry if there are some things that you know but I don’t, kindly share with me as well, I do know that it’s a very complex industry outside there and I am not in it for a dozen of years to give a technical feasible implementing ideas, but..

Here is what I think Should Be in the Budget 2014 to keep the Green Wave going on

  • Continue the full exemption for import duty and excise tax for hybrid cars

This is rather a huge bomb to the hybrid and electrical vehicle industry. The hybrid vehicle sparked off last few years due to this. The government gave full exemption for import duty and excise tax for hybrid cars with engines displacing under 2,000 cc until December 31, 2013. Ever since full duty exemption was given, the hybrid car segment has seen a big boom led by Toyota and Honda.

From just 332 hybrids sold in 2010, over 15,000 hybrids found new homes last year, while 8,571 units were sold in the first seven months of 2013. Now with this scrapped off, this is leaving many major players in the automotive industry pondering what’s next. Well my personal speculation will say this is to give way to Proton’s very own hybrid models as it’s been in the test lab for quite some time.

  • Fund SEDA’s FiT

Many are unsure on the status of the availability of Feed In Tariff quota for the next few years to come. It is indeed the mechanism that thrives the PV industry significantly. Of course who wouldn’t want to invest in a 21 years scheme that you can sell your electricity 3-5 times higher than you purcahse them? Sounds a legit investment too. Currently the FiT future quota is determined by the 1% of RE fund of your electricity bill (except to domestic user who spend less than RM70/month). It seems that perhaps SEDA might need to increase another 1% to keep the funding going so to balance the cash flow to the FiT holders. While I do not really understand in terms of financing, it will be good that if Budget 2014 funds FiT to keep the PV industry growing here.

  • Fund Environmental Social Enterprise/ NGOs

This is a dying need for many NGOs and Social Enterprise. Almost every NGO I came across will mention on the issue of funding, and sadly speaking, most of them get fundings from energy companies such as shell/exxon/etcetc, well do they have a choice when there are big giant corporates who wish to ‘fulfill their green CSR’ and no one else to fund the NGOs? NGOs are not only thirst of monetary resources to execute plans, but red tapes are plentiful as well, that is why many turn into social enterprise, and nevertheless starting up is hard with the lack of starting funds.

  • Recruit and Fund more Rangers in the National Parks

This is another dying need. Imagine only less than 50 rangers guiding more than 49,000 hectares of protected forest in the peninsula. With the lack of enforcement and manpower, it is hard for them to take care of the flora and fauna treasure of the national parks. It’s often the case we under estimate their contribution and significant role play in keeping the protected forest away from poachers, assist in research works etc etc. They need more man power and more resources to back them up. You can know more about their struggles through WWF’s Wira Rimba film.

That’s all I could think of right now, while of course I am not an environmental policy person to evaluate through (well perhaps I might in time to come?), but feel free to throw in any suggestion on what would you like to see in Budget 2014 in respond to the dying need of environmental sustainability of Malaysia.

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