Govt to spend RM45b on 4,000 development projects to stimulate economy

Azmin also outlines 3 main dimensions for the formulation of the 12MP

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

THE government will spend up to RM45 billion on about 4,000 development projects to invigorate Malaysia’s economic progress and activities.

Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said the development expenditure will ensure robust economic growth in the coming years.

“Together with the resumption of several large-scale projects, these developments will be our growth drivers for this year and the next,” Azmin said during the launch of the World Bank’s latest Malaysia Economic Monitor and the kick-off conference of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) yesterday.

In the first quarter this year, Azmin said the state economy expanded 4.5%, supported by steady domestic demand, particularly private consumption that is buoyed by favourable labour market conditions, and recovery in agricultural production.

Additionally, he said inflation also fell by 0.3%, mainly due to lower domestic fuel prices arising from the resumption of managed float fuel pricing mechanism and setting of a lower price ceiling for RON95 petrol.

“Despite the negative overall inflation during this quarter, this decline was not broad-based as 81% of consumer items were not experiencing price declines,” he added.

Apart from that, Azmin also outlined three main dimensions for the formulation of the 12MP.

There are economic empowerment, environmental sustainability and social re-engineering.

“These dimensions are to be underpinned by the principles of enhanced government and new policy tools,” the minister said in a video recording as he is currently attending the sixth OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting in Vienna, Austria.

The government, according to Azmin, has taken necessary steps to reduce regulatory burdens for doing business in Malaysia.

Among the steps being undertaken was the removal of non-tariff measures (NTMs). “As of 2018, the government has reviewed 668 NTMs under six ministries that had a total estimated compliance cost of RM2.96 billion, with potential cost savings of RM739 million,” he said.

Meanwhile, World Bank lead public sector specialist Rajni Bajpai said currently, Malaysia has already managed to reach the desired level of indication in the East and Asia Pacific (EAP) region in its bid to become a high-income nation.

As such, she said the country should set a new benchmark for its government institutional reform to be on par with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.

“As Malaysia aspires to be a high-income economy, and by 2024, EAP would not be comparable for Malaysia. You need to be compared to the high-income economies like the OECD countries.

“If you compare with the OECD, there is some gap that Malaysia needs to fill, including data openness, transparency, accountability and the rule of law,” Rajni said.

OECD is made of 36 countries, mainly comprising high-income states, and represents about 80% of world trade and investment nations including Canada, Germany, Korea and Japan.

Last year, Malaysia’s gross national income per capita stood at US$10,460 (RM43,250), US$1,915 below the threshold level of US$12,375 that the World Bank currently sets in defining high-income country status.

Rajni also said the public perception towards the civil servants is also way lower compared to the OECD states.

She added that for the past four years, public service effectiveness has been stagnated compared to the growth recorded between 1991 and 2014.

In previous reports, Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had warned civil servants against greed, corrupt practices and power abuses.

Subsequently, the PM established the National Anti-Corruption Plan, a comprehensive policy drawn up, reminding all leaders and civil service to stay away from corrupt practices.