Posts Tagged ‘australia’

MyEG, JPJ, VicRoads on road taxes: the difference is trust?

On Twitter today, Christopher Tock stated:

If @myegclub cld have a service to notify road tax of a car nearing expiry date, I’m sure it’ll get more ppl to register under them! ;) #fb

I replied:

Instead, why not send new road tax one month before expiry by mail, and get payment via @myegclub ? @spinzer @nikicheong

Christopher then asked about the situation in which people don’t pay, and they receive their registration labels by mail. And Niki Cheong said that “many people try to find their way around paying for stuff here. ingrained in our lives”.

VicRoads website It got me thinking. In Victoria, Australia, VicRoads sends out registration labels and the certificate every year, about a month before expiry. You then head online, and pay for your registration using your credit card. I believe you might also be able to pay for it in cash at various locations (post office, etc.), though I’ve always done it online. You never ask – what if I don’t pay for it. You just do. I’m sure there are stiff penalties for lacking payment. But the process is easy – it comes to you, there’s no need to remember when things are expiring, and you can pay for it online, all without leaving the comfort of your home.

In Malaysia, JPJ does not remind you when your road tax is expiring. The onus is on you to know this. You then have to head to the post office to pay for it and get the registration label, and settle your insurance at the same time. Or you can avoid all this by sending it to your car’s service centre and they’ll take about two days to sort this out for you. Insurance can be paid via credit card, but your road tax needs to be in cash (or so UMW-Toyota tells me).

JPJ websiteThe government of Malaysia is heavily pushing their e-government services portal – MyEG. You can now renew your road tax online, thus getting rid of the whole visiting the post office or your manufacturer’s service centre. This is similar to what VicRoads does – you enter your registration number and it will tell you if you have a payment to be made or not. This is a step forward – except for the fact, that there is no reminder for you to renew your road tax!

Will it be hard to implement? Of course not. Part of the registration for MyEG includes you giving away your identity card (IC) number. A simple change to the database can ensure that you can tie several cars to your account and you can thus make payment on them. MyEG will know when the road tax is expiring, and a simple SMS message might suffice (bulk SMS costs are cheap). And if they’re more trusting, mailing out of the labels themselves!

But I guess Niki is right – it is ingrained that Malaysians might want to find away around the system, if the labels were sent out, pre-payment. Take a look at petrol kiosks: in Australia, you pump your petrol first, then go in to make the payment. You don’t think about running away after getting your full tank. You do this no matter how much petrol costs. In Malaysia, you pay for your petrol first. Either at the counter, or via credit card authorisation. No payment, no petrol.

I sincerely hope MyEG/JPJ figure this out at some stage. As we move towards a more knowledge-based economy, and the goals of the government certainly include getting Malaysia more in-tune with the rest of the First World, it probably makes sense that service delivery takes a notch up.

As a quick aside, do look at both the VicRoads and the JPJ website. Look at how the information is architected. How its presented. Its an interesting comparison. I wonder how many web designers go through this sort of thought process, when thinking about designing websites that are targeted for mass consumption of government services.

On fuel subsidies, and earning/spending power

Rudd wants fuel subsidies in Asian countries to be removed. He thinks it artificially inflates prices across the region.

Malaysia recently had a 40% increase in fuel prices, where the old rate was RM1.92, and the new rate is RM2.70 (there is still a 30 sen subsidy).

Now, lets investigate the cost of living, and discuss earning power (therefore, spending power).

Australia has the concept of a Federal Minimum Wage (FMW), which currently stands at AUD$13.74 per hour. If you work a 40-hour work week, for 4 weeks (notice that this then gives you a 13 month pay cheque), that’s about AUD$2,200/month, and a yearly income of about AUD$28,579.20. Yes, even for flipping burgers at McDonalds, you get at least 2.2k/month!

Malaysia has no concept of minimum wages. With foreign labour available relatively cheaply, fresh graduates tend to earn RM1,800/month. Flipping burgers at Burger King? I hear (OK, I lie; I’ve seen this advertised outside a BK store) the salary rate is about RM560/month (that’s a measly RM3.50/hour).

OK, so the tax laws are different. Australia exempts you on your first $6,000/year. Malaysia has over 10 million workers, and only about 1.2 million pay taxes (you are tax exempt if your monthly salary is less than RM3,000). In fact, those in the highest 28% bracket currently stand at a paltry 38,500 people.

But the cost of living, is also different. A book, that costs USD$20, will cost about AUD$25-30 in Borders; the same book will cost RM85 in Malaysia! Its no wonder, Malaysians are said to not read very much.

So, books aren’t necessities. Lets look at milk. 1L in Australia would set you back AUD$2.03 (this being Pura Milk, which I’m fond of drinking). 1L in Malaysia (Dutch Lady) would set you back RM3.39. Ouch! Dollar-to-dollar, that is a $1.36 difference for an essential item.

Back to fuel… Its hovering at about AUD$1.60/L, and $1.70 is not far off. Think about paying RM2.70/L, with talk of it going up in the near future, also not far off. Then remember, the difference in wages. And take into account the cost of living.

Remember, in Asia, Malaysia isn’t deemed “bad”, or “third world”. In terms of development (South East Asia, at least), it stands next to Singapore.

Rudd, mate, if you’re not pushing for higher wages, don’t bother pushing for an end to petrol subsidies.