PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) will develop a behavioural insights (BI) module that policymakers can use as a guide when drafting and framing laws and regulations.
MPC director-general Datuk Abdul Latif Abu Seman said the BI approach is about formulating laws and regulations based on studies on human behaviour and hinges on persuasion and encouragement rather than punishment.
“For example, income taxpayers.. with BI we can sit and discuss and offer incentives such as a discount or a 10% rebate. This approach indirectly encourages the individual to pay the tax.
“So, regulations or laws based on BI will indirectly bring about positive changes in people. We don’t use the law to force but to change their behaviour,” he told Bernama when met at the National Seminar on BI 2020 yesterday.
Abdul Latif said MPC has been given the mandate by the Ministry of Economic Affairs to develop a policy to shore up economic growth and boost productivity.
“MPC’s target is to encourage more government organisations to draw up regulations using the BI approach which, besides contributing to productivity, will also lead to behavioural change in a more positive way.
“Apply the BI method, not the harsh legal approach. There’s no need for prison, use an understanding approach instead,” he said.
According to him, MPC would implement various awareness programmes and activities this year, targeting policymakers, the business community and the society.
“We will organise webinar sessions, use social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and relevant seminars and programmes to disseminate behavioural information,” he said.
Earlier in his opening speech, MPC chairman Chua Tian Chang said MPC has been tasked by the government to initiate awareness programmes on BI, which is expected to be introduced under the 12th Malaysia Plan.
Since December last year, he said, MPC had undertaken several BI initiatives and activities which included engagements with both local and international BI experts.
“An on-boarding session on BI with ministries and agencies was also held to discuss potential BI issues and approximately 40 government officials have been trained on this subject.
“Today’s seminar on BI marks the formal beginning of its journey in Malaysia. The objective of this national seminar is to promote and inculcate the importance of BI for better policymaking,” he said.
Meanwhile, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking said ministries and government agencies should adopt the BI approach in crafting policies that could lead to better experiment designs, more compelling business cases and stronger social outcomes for the country.
He acknowledged that the application of BI had proven to be useful in improving government delivery services to citizens as well as improving compliance among regulated entities.
“BI has the potential to aid policy responses to complex challenges facing policymakers, (such as) inclusivity, sustainability and social outcomes at all levels of government and across economies and context,” he said.
His speech was read out by Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) deputy secretary-general Datuk Seri Norazman Ayob.
Darell noted that the application of BI has spread rapidly over the years beginning in the United States, the United Kingdom, and recently in Asia.
“In Malaysia, behavioural information in public policymaking is still in its infancy. We cannot totally rely on economic theory and assumptions, as decisions made by real people often deviate from the impractical theory based on conventional economics,” he added. – Feb 21, 2020, Bernama