PM: Red tape hinders economic progress

by SHAZNI ONG & SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / pic by ISMAIL CHE RUS

Bureaucratic roadblocks, largely in the public sector, must be removed as the country seeks to revive Malaysia Inc, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The prime minister said such counterproductive practices would only impede the country’s economic progress and stunt the potential of projects.

“The public sector must not put up bureaucratic roadblocks that hinder potentially beneficial projects or economic progress.

“The government needs to ensure that bureaucratic procedures and requirements do not stifle innovation and progress,” he said at the Perdana Leadership Foundation CEO Forum 2019 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

He said the revival of Malaysia Inc would show the importance of collaboration between the private and public sectors in developing the nation.

Dr Mahathir first introduced the Malaysia Inc concept during his initial stint as the PM, which has helped to boost the country’s economy.

The refreshed version of the concept would require the private and public sectors to work together, eliminating bureaucratic red tape and improving the process.

“Malaysia Inc helped establish communication channels between the private and public sectors, thus enabling them to work together towards a common objective — to develop Malaysia,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the failure of the private and public sectors to align with each other in the past had driven him to establish the concept.

“Malaysia Inc achieved great success when it was introduced. At the time of its introduction, the business and public sectors did not see eye to eye on many issues and operated within their own silos.

“The private sector was aiming to maximise profits for itself and the government was focusing only on delivering services to the public.”

He said the reintroduced concept will allow the private sector to be the country’s commercial and economic arm, while the government leads the policy framework and direction.

“The public and private sectors must see themselves as working to achieve a common goal — which is the growth, development and prosperity of Malaysia,” he said, adding that both sides must show mutual cooperation, trust and understanding.

“It will not do for the private and public sectors to be confrontational with each other or to see each other as competitors,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said as a reformed country, both sectors have the responsibility to ensure the business environment in Malaysia is shielded from corruption.

“In line with the government’s emphasis on transparency, accountability and good governance, both private and public sectors must no longer indulge in bribery nor kickbacks.

“The government is serious about combating corruption and I urge all the business leaders here to do your bit, at the very least by not doing deals with companies that are involved in corrupt practices.”

Dr Mahathir said Malaysia is still behind most developed economies despite its respectable growth rates in the past two years.

“In terms of productivity, our labour productivity grew at a respectable rate in 2017 and 2018, but it still lags behind most developed economies of the world.

“We need to be twice as productive to be on par with the productivity rate of developed economies,” he said, adding that the country needs to increase its skilled labour and minimise its reliance on cheap and low-skilled labour.

“At present, 70% of our workforce are SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) graduates. Reskilling them for the new economy is crucial as the government also intends to reverse the trend of manufacturing companies, especially the small and medium-sized companies, to remain labour-intensive instead of investing in new technologies,” he said.

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