The Economic Planning Unit (EPU) is the principal government agency responsible for preparing the national development plans. The Unit began on 24 April 1956 as the Economic Secretariat to the Economic Committee of the Federal Executive Council. The Economic Secretariat underwent reorganisastion as the Economic Planning Unit in 1961 and headed by the Deputy Secretary (Economics) in the Prime Minister’s Department. Starting in 1970, EPU is headed by a director general with Tan Sri Dato’ Thong Yaw Hong becoming its first Director General.
EPU underwent various phases of restructuring to strengthen its role in national socioeconomic development planning. This include its restructuring in 2007 to focus planning to two sectors namely sectoral planning and macro planning. In 2009, the Privatisation and Private Finance Initiative (PFI) Section of EPU was moved to the Public Private Partnership Unit (UKAS), a new agency under the Prime Minister’s Department responsible for the public-private partnership and privatisation.
With the change of government after the 14th general election in 2018, EPU underwent another restructuring to become the new Ministry of Economic Affairs (MEA). MEA’s mandate and main roles is to lead the national socioeconomic development through effective planning to ensure development, which are inclusive, fair and equitable. MEA’s other responsibility include overseeing 31 agencies, statutory bodies, government link companies and state economic development corporations. Based on the Cabinet decision on 18th December 2020, EPU was formally dissolved with all its functions and roles taken over by MEA. Thus, MEA’s functions are more comprehensive covering planning, implementation, regulating and monitoring.
EPU was reestablished as an agency under the Prime Minister’s Department with the formation of the new Cabinet on 10th March 2020. EPU take over the role and functions of MEA when MEA was disbanded.
Since its existence six decade ago, EPU’s role and functions in preparing the nation’s medium and long-term development plans have not change much even though it has underwent many restructuring, dissolution and reestablishment. EPU always realigned the nation’s development philosophy in line with the changes in government and current development policies.