Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A united effort

I picked up a copy of newspaper on the plane yesterday morning and saw Najib's speech got published. He got the big pictures right but does he have the political will to make things happen. Remember the judgement day 2013.

(SCMP)I arrived in Hong Kong this week encouraged by the progress Malaysia and the region have made in emerging from the global recession, yet aware of the challenges that lie ahead. We benefit from working together to build competitive economies that can succeed in the global marketplace.

Across the region, many nations acted quickly and aggressively to address the global recession. This allowed us to head off the worst effects and steer a path towards recovery.

In Malaysia, we introduced two economic stimulus packages totaling M$67 billion (HK$157 billion), liberalised many service sectors and the financial sector, and introduced a common-sense budget that both invested in public services and found savings opportunities. As a result, the fourth quarter of last year saw year-on-year growth of 4.5 per cent in the gross domestic product. And the market is expecting 4-5 per cent growth this year.

I am also happy to report that the deficit is forecast to be several points lower than expected. In addition, prospects for foreign investment have increased. Just last week, Coca-Cola announced a multimillion-dollar investment in Malaysia that will create thousands of new jobs.

The recovery is under way and the foundation for growth is in place, underpinned by a sound monetary policy. But our ambitions for Malaysia's economy don't end with an economic recovery.

Our goal is to develop a highly competitive, globally attractive nation that offers high-value, high-skill sectors for the future. This will create jobs, make Malaysia a high-income country and open new opportunities for investments that drive growth. Malaysia will not achieve these goals by chance. We can only develop our economy by addressing challenges and issues head on. We need to implement equitable economic reforms, stimulate investment in strategic growth sectors, continue to enhance the social welfare net and bring all Malaysians along with us on the path to prosperity (SEHK: 0803, announcements, news) .

In coming months, we will lay out a road map for Malaysia's long-term economic future. This will be a future in which no one is left behind or marginalised. The principles that underlie our approach address four key areas.

First, Malaysia must provide incentives in nascent, yet growing, sectors such as green technology and Islamic financing, both of which create high-value, high-income jobs. At the same time, we cannot ignore the successes we have had in traditional economic sectors.

This means investing in educational opportunities for all citizens to build a talent base that can compete with the best around the world. It will also require Malaysia's economic engine to succeed in hi-tech industries, green manufacturing and innovation. A second factor - we must be willing to implement difficult but necessary economic measures to increase Malaysia's competitiveness.

These include fiscal reforms that remove outdated subsidies and broaden our tax base through a goods and services tax. Our new economic model must be progressive and fair to all Malaysians and support families that need it the most.

Third, we must broaden our regional and international ties to strengthen trade and business opportunities. Malaysia's relationships with our regional partners - and with China in particular - are highly valued and beneficial. We look forward to expanding them in the months and years ahead.

Finally, we will build a new Malaysian economy for the new century in the spirit of the "1Malaysia" concept.

This means ensuring fairness and equity as core principles and recognising that diversity is our strength. All Malaysians must have an opportunity to fulfil their potential.

As in other nations, reforms are challenging to introduce and implement. But we have made great progress to date, initiating a national discussion about the steps we have to take and building a broad consensus for action that will serve as a building block for long-term prosperity.

Although much work remains to be done, I am confident we will rise to the challenge, united as 1Malaysia, where - together - all can prosper.

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