Big data, big dreams, big concerns: Can Padu deliver?

08 Jan 2024 09:00am
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX
Pix for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - The implementation of the Central Database Hub (Padu) on Jan 2 marks a significant step towards a more equitable socio-economic future for Malaysians.

Moving beyond income brackets like B40, M40, and T20, Padu promises a data-driven approach to targeting subsidies and aid based on in-depth household expenditures, responsibilities, and location-specific living costs.

In addition to determining more precise target groups in distributing subsidies, Padu also becomes a platform to drive planning and policy management to empower the people.

Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia Economics Faculty Senior Lecturer Dr Mohd Faisol Ibrahim said that with the power to access data from 445 public sector institutions nationwide, including federal and state statutory bodies and local authorities (PBT), Padu could be considered a powerful 'weapon' for the Economy Ministry.

"This is because all data related to the profiles of the Malaysian people can be obtained from various government departments and agencies with different functions and objectives to provide an accurate picture to the government.

"In other words, Padu is considered the 'national socio-economic data bank' because indirectly it can address wastage in the distribution of targeted aid and subsidies.

"With this, groups like M40, who are often left out from receiving government benefits and aid, can now breathe a sigh of relief," he told Sinar.

According to Faisol, Padu could predict the market and ensure that goods' production and supply meet consumer demand.

Related Articles:

"Through Padu, predictions of demand for a particular product, especially necessities such as rice, oil, and eggs, can be done wisely so that the demand for these goods can always be obtained by the public.

"In addition, the culture of hoarding goods, raising prices, manipulating buyers and panic buying can be avoided in the future.

"This can help small traders manage sales and capital costs effectively and reduce the likelihood of losses," he said.

In terms of the issue of undocumented immigrants, Faisol said that Padu is seen as a medium that could reveal the actual number of these minority groups in an area by accessing the latest population data as well as the use of utilities from the water management and Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB).

"For example, if the latest population data in an area is 30,000 people but TNB utility usage reaches up to 80,000 people, there must be undocumented immigrants there.

“If Padu can be implemented holistically, then the issue of misuse of fire and water, the monopoly of foreigners, and civil crime can be addressed.

"Finally, besides the government being able to better organise the socio-economy of the people, the problem of money flowing out of the country through immigrants can also be controlled.

"Moreover, the people's confidence to actively participate in the economy has returned because the rights of the people show that there is government defense," he said.

He added Padu could see how far the poverty line income was relevant to the actual cost of living, including residential houses, which were daruriyyat (necessities) in Islam.

"Therefore, the policy and policy of ownership and house prices to be developed by developers need to be reviewed so that all Malaysians can afford houses at affordable prices based on the current cost of living and not affordable homes according to developers' views.

"If Padu can successfully implement this, affordable homes will be more developed by developers compared to luxury homes and moderate-cost homes that cause a significant portion of the population to be unable to afford and have to choose to rent," he said.

Able to influence price demand, supply

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya's Institute of European Asia Economic Professor Datuk Dr Rajah Rasiah said that in addition to shaping production, Padu could also influence price demand and supply.

"Economic actors, including ordinary people, can find out and determine the components of a market basket based on the price and supply of the market with the Padu system," he said.

Rajah added that property ownership data to assess the actual purchasing power of the people's property could be utilised with the Padu database system.

"Even though developers have an asymmetry of power over buyers for now, I believe the role of Padu is broader and grounded in the market for buying and selling used houses because this market lacks information and data," he said.

However, he said, Padu was still at an early stage, and it was undeniable that it needed improvement from time to time to strengthen the potential of the most powerful agency.

"Since Padu collects all databases from users, it is not impossible that their personal information is more exposed to hackers. The protection of confidential information is still an issue.

"For now, I feel that the implementation of Padu has not yet instilled confidence in users about their security," he added.

He hoped that the government could take a more comprehensive approach and that future obstacles could be resolved by mid-2024.