1. I would like to express my appreciation to Oxford Business Group for inviting me to officiate the launch of The Report: Malaysia 2010 this afternoon. The Report, the fifth edition, provides a comprehensive overview of all sectors of Malaysia’s economy, highlighting the key opportunities for domestic and international investors and its transformation into a high income economy. In a very timely way, the launch of the report comes, exactly three weeks after the Tenth Malaysia Plan was presented to Parliament on 10 June. This is an exciting time for all Malaysians and a prime occasion for international investors and business leaders to learn about the unique opportunities available in our growing market.
Ladies and gentlemen,
2. Let me begin by emphasising that Malaysia is strongly committed to sustained, robust economic growth. The recently unveiled Tenth Malaysia Plan charts a five-year development path and outlines new policy directions, strategies and programmes that will enable Malaysia to emerge as an advanced, high income nation by 2015. By linking together the Government Transformation Programme and the New Economic Model, the Tenth Malaysia Plan also addresses broader national aspirations such as inclusiveness and sustainability, which are key to our economic success as we seek to improve our labor productivity, reduce corruption and invest in our education system.
3. The aspirations embodied by the Tenth Malaysia plan are fundamental to our country’s ability to innovate and remain competitive for the long-term. They are also an important and necessary response to a new economic paradigm that many nations are facing. The era of globalization and trade liberalization has brought about several important changes that require countries to become more flexible and creative. Governments are increasingly engaging in free trade agreements to open market access and put into place mechanisms that facilitate international trade and investments. As consumer purchasing power increases, these agreements stimulate demand for high quality products. Opportunities abound as free trade agreements offer both economic and technological benefits. The challenge will be our ability to grasp the significance of open markets, to capitalize on innovation and ensure that Malaysia can compete and make more liberalized trade an opportunity rather than a barrier.
4. In this new business environment, there are many uncertainties. Malaysia is addressing the economic ambiguity by developing policies that lead to a more agile and creative workforce. We recognize that knowledge has become a key driver of economic growth and development around the world, and that our ability to encourage innovation may provide the tipping point in our national development goals.
5. It is clear that countries that make innovation a priority have a clearer competitive advantage. Malaysia has learned valuable lessons from our Asian neighbors and we are in the process of applying those lessons in the right areas. This is the impetus for the Tenth Malaysia Plan and the rationale for our policy initiatives focusing on our pursuit of high-income status by 2020.
6. We also realise that in an increasingly competitive global economy, attracting additional foreign direct investment is becoming more challenging. As such, while we will continue to encourage foreign investment or re-investment in our traditionally strong sectors such as electronics, we also seek to attract new types of investments. Such investment will include high-value, high-impact innovation areas such as biotech and green technology, and services such as Islamic finance and medical tourism among many, many others. The government is also examining additional sectors to be liberalised in line with the ASEAN Free Trade Area, and opportunities to create high-growth, high value jobs within Malaysia.
7. Malaysia is poised to undertake the major structural transformation that a high-income economy requires through an approach that is holistic yet focused on specific outcomes. For example, from 2011-2015, we have set a target for gross national income per capita to increase to 38,850 ringgit, or 12,140 US dollars. This requires achieving real GDP growth of 6 per cent per annum – an ambitious yet achievable target.
8. To achieve this target, public investment in the economy must play a smaller role than private investment, which is why a core challenge of the Tenth Malaysia Plan is to stimulate the private sector as the economy’s principal growth engine. The government, which has run a continuous deficit since 1998, aims to reduce Malaysia’s fiscal deficit from 5.3 per cent of GDP in 2010 to less than 3 per cent in 2015. Meanwhile, private investment is expected to grow at 12.8 per cent per annum over the next five years. The Government’s key role, therefore, will be to facilitate private sector-led growth though clear policies and incentives as outlined in the Tenth Malaysia Plan.
9. On our part, we must ensure that the broader environment is conditioned to support a high value economy. Human capital must be improved through enhanced education opportunities and skills development. The government must be transformed into an effective facilitator, and promulgate the necessary legal and regulatory reforms to facilitate business and economic activity.
10. Transparency throughout the process is also a key factor. Malaysia’s Economic Planning Unit is currently identifying what needs to be done to ensure programmes can be implemented beginning by January 2011. In addition, the Public Sector Investment Plan, which details all of the Ministry’s programmes, will be circulated to the relevant ministries in the middle of August this year.
11. Accountability is the final factor. The Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) is facilitating the National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) Labs, participated in by private and public sectors, to identify and study the feasibility of projects and initiatives under each NKEA as well as develop implementation plans to deliver targets. The 12 NKEAs, have been identified on the basis of their contribution to high income, sustainability and inclusiveness, as the foundation of the Tenth Malaysia Plan. The NKEAs will be the nation’s priority areas for economic enhancement during the Tenth Malaysia Plan period. To ensure the NKEAs will contribute a quantifiable amount of economic growth, PEMANDU also welcomes input from the public to submit bold ideas, suggestions and proposals relevant to the NKEAs via the PEMANDU website.
Ladies and gentlemen,
12. The Report: Malaysia 2010 published by the Oxford Business Group provides unrivalled insight to investors, analysts and the business community on the current state and future potential of the Malaysian economy and on the opportunities of investing in Malaysia. The Report covers all aspects of Malaysia and its economy, featuring various sectors such as Islamic finance, capital markets, energy and utilities, research and innovation, IT, education, construction and real estate. It also serves as roadmap for potential investors. While we hope that the unique benefits of investing in Malaysia are self-evident, it is important with today’s global markets that accurate and independent information is provided to investors so that they are aware of the future direction of this country and the opportunities that are available. An annual reference such as The Report plays an important part in attracting them to invest in Malaysia.
13. To conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Oxford Business Group team, who has worked diligently to produce this report over the past six months. In addition, I would also like to express our appreciation to all ministries and agencies that supported the publication of this Report.
14. With that, it gives me great pleasure to officially launch The Report: Malaysia 2010.
Wabillahitaufiq Walhidayah Wassalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh