KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 (Bernama) — The government is making efforts to develop a new economic model for Malaysia which among others will emphasise raising the productivity level of workers with the objective of helping them earn higher incomes, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Najib said the scope of work for this new economic model would be handled by an economic council that would be set up, which would comprise economic experts from Malaysia and abroad.
He said the model would also outline how Malaysia can further improve its economic situation from the high middle income level now to the high income level.
According to the prime minister, increase in workers productivity should not only be through more hours worked but also through innovation and creativity.
“If we stress on this, will be able to raise the productivity level not incrementally but by a quantum leap.
“And when we can achieve this, naturally workers can be paid much higher,” he told reporters after delivering a special message at the national-level 2009 Workers Day gathering at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil here, Saturday.
Najib said this when asked to elaborate about his message at the gathering which among others touched on a new economic model, fund for retrenched workers and efforts to improve the Employee Provident Fund (EPF) scheme.
On the new economic model, Najib said each enterprise in the country, whether it involved the private sector, government-linked companies or even government companies, they must look into raising workers skills through innovation and creativity.
He said this would bring about increased productivity and thus help raise workers incomes, which ultimately meant progress for the country.
“This is the model I am stressing. A new economic model beneficial to workers and the nation can attain a higher level of competitiveness.
“We will not allow the country to remain as it is but find ways to achieve a quantum leap so that we can be in the high income bracket. This is the government’s goal and together (government and the people) we must make the effort to translate it into a reality,” he said.
On the workers’ retrenchment fund, Najib said the government, through the Human Resources Ministry and the minister concerned, was continuing discussions with all parties involved.
“And when the ministry is ready, (they) will come up with a proposal to the cabinet (for further action),” he said.
Yesterday, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) called upon the government to immediately create the fund with the government contributing RM500 million. The congress had made the call for the establishment of the fund more than 10 years ago.
On improvements to the EPF scheme, Najib said the matter was also being studied as many workers in the country were suffering financial difficulties because the amount received was limited whereas the life expectancy of Malaysians had now risen to between 73 years and 76 years.
He said a study by the EPF showed that 70 percent of the contributors had used up their EPF savings within three to 10 years.
“So, we have to find a way how payment can be made, whether it would be paid on annuity or monthly basis. By doing so, we can ensure security for our workers,” he said.
In his address to more than 10,000 workers at the gathering, Najib said everyone must preserve and protect the harmonious industrial climate existing in the country now because cordial relations between the employers and workers was key to Malaysia’s success.
In the wider context, Najib said three-way relations between employers, workers and the government must be based on mutual help so that the nation could achieve greater heights in future.
“The employers should understand the aspirations of the workers while the workers should contribute with full dedication and the government should discharge its responsibilities through positive policies to stimulate the economy,” he said.
Najib also reminded that the employers’ policy of keeping production cost low should not affect the workers in terms of their salary increment.
He urged employers such as restaurant operators and the small and medium industries to provide a better working environment and terms of employment to attract more local workers to work in these sectors.
He said there were more than two million foreign workers in the country now.
“I hope the employers would not take the easy way out by offering job opportunities to foreigners because of their lower pay. Give the locals a chance too,” he said.
The Prime Minister hoped that the unemployment rate would be kept at the minimum level and the government would continue to create job opportunities.
He said the unemployment rate might rise from 3.1 percent last year to four percent this year due to the global economic recession.
Source : Bernama