Bumiputera agenda won’t be abolished under NEP review

The review of the NEP will be considered during the govt’s tabulation of Budget 2019, says minister

By NG MIN SHEN / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM

The rights of Bumiputeras will not be affected despite the review of economic policies, including the New Economic Policy (NEP), as assistance will be given based on needs, said Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ir Amiruddin Hamzah (picture).

“The Bumiputera agenda has always been there. It will not be abolished. But, we will definitely not be leaving behind those who need help,” he said on the sidelines of the 10th BankTech Asia Conference and Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

“There are people from other races as well who have to be helped. So, the Bumiputera agenda will be looked upon, but we will not leave the rest to suffer. Assistance will be given to the needy,” he added.

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali was reported as saying that the government will review major national policies, including the NEP and the NewEconomic Model (NEM), to ensure that they fulfil the needs of the people and are still relevant in ensuring sustainable economic development.

The government’s policies must be based on needs and not race, Mohamed Azmin said, stating that the proposed review is expected to be presented in November.

Amiruddin said the review of the NEP will be considered during the government’s tabulation of Budget 2019, which will be presented on Nov 2.

“We are still looking into it, especially with regards to forming the 2019 budget. These agendas, including what we have promised in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, we will give particular attention,” he said.

The NEP was introduced in 1970 with the aim of eradicating poverty and restructuring societal layers to correct economic imbalances between the Malays and Bumiputeras with their Chinese and Indian counterparts. It has been criticised due to alleged abuse of the system, which has allowed only the majority race to benefit from the policy.

In 2010, the NEM was introduced by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak to more than double the per capita income in Malaysia by 2020 and shift affirmative action from being ethnically based to being needs-based.

Meanwhile, in his opening speech at the conference, Amiruddin called on domestic banks to invest in technologies that are game-changers as well as relevant enough to provide a substantial return on investment.

He said banks are increasingly under revenue pressure due to the change in consumer demands, the rise of financial technology (fintech) and foreign banks receiving full licences to operate in Malaysia under the Asean Banking Integration Framework.

“The government is committed towards transforming the financial services sector. Hence, the industry must be in line with the government in promoting the digital economy,” he said.

The relevant authorities and regulators, including Bank Negara Malaysia, will also work together to find new ways of encouraging more fintech players to develop, while banks should evaluate commercially viable ways to collaborate with fintech start-ups.

“We definitely have to regulate (fintech start-ups), but I think some leeway or flexibility has to be given because if we over-regulate, we are more or less obstructing them from innovating.

“For the regulators, it’s about ensuring that security is not compromised. So, we have to balance between over-regulating and giving too much freedom,” Amiruddin said.

He added that the government will consider continuing the previous administration’s initiatives to boost the domestic digital economy.

“We’ll see (whether to continue the previous initiatives). I think reforms have to be made. I can’t say what it will be — some aids or incentives, but we’re looking into it because this is the way forward.

“We will look at how the government can do its part to help move forward in the digital industry,” he said.

The previous administration’s efforts to boost the digital economy included a RM100 million allocation under Budget 2018 for the eRezeki and eUsahawan programmes that target youth, digital entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises, as well as the provision of grants worth RM245 million under the Domestic Investment Strategic Fund to upgrade smart manufacturing services.