Mustapa: Digitalisation to help achieve high-income status

by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by BERNAMA

MALAYSIA needs to build a workforce for the future, drive digitalisation and spur productivity improvements in all sectors in order to achieve its long-desired goal of being a high-income nation, Minister in the Prime Minister’s (PM) Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed (picture)said.

Mustapa said Malaysia has strengthened its resolve in intensifying the digitalisation journey that first began with the Multimedia Super Corridor, and with the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint launched by the PM on Feb 1.

He saidt the country has managed to record a steady growth of 6.1% from 1971 to 2019, despite facing five economic downturns since 1970. He highlighted that Malaysia was able to bounce back from those economic crises due to its resilience and competitiveness.

“This factor-driven growth is becoming more costly to sustain, with every unit of input injected into the economy, yielding less GDP growth compared to the past.

“New sources of growth are needed to ensure that it is driven by multifactor productivity,” he said at the launch of the World Bank’s report yesterday.

Mustapa said addressing poverty and income inequality is among the key development agenda for the country moving forward.

He said based on the Household Income and Basic Amenities Survey Report 2019, the Gini coefficient has increased from 0.39 in 2016 to 0.41 in 2019. Additionally, the income gap between regions and states has gone up and of course between races and within races as well.

“To accelerate balanced and inclusive development, rural areas will be transformed to bridge the development gap and to optimise regional economic potential.”

He said strategic collaboration and coordination between the federal and state governments will be strengthened to support effective regional development planning and implementation. Each state will also continue to play an important role in socioeconomic development, to achieve more balanced and inclusive growth.

Mustapa said the new World Bank report will help the country to further explore the steps it needs to take in order to maximise its potential, to transition successfully to high-income and developed status, and to sustain equitable growth beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The challenge is how to do things differently, creatively and innovatively. We need to learn from our shortcomings, and how we can do things better, as well as take into account the best practices in other countries.”

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Utama Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, who was also present at the launch, said Malaysia needs to re-examine its policymaking measures, as well as the role of government and institutions to enhance future socio-economic growth.

He said moving forward the country must devise new measures to achieve knowledge-intensive and productivity-intensive growth. “This also includes the initiative of ensuring equal opportunities for all Malaysians, providing opportunities for increased mobility and good incentives to stay and work in Malaysia.

“I am aware that Malaysians aspire to not only have a high-income economy, but also an economy that provides a meaningful improvement in the living standards of the entire population.”

He stressed that greater resources need to be invested to build high quality human capital and in facilitating wider economic opportunities, especially for women.

He said next-generation reforms to increase productivity and innovation-led private sector growth are also needed, along with policies to promote skills and talent development.

“This is important, so that we can ensure that Malaysians are in a better place to seize economic opportunities and challenges after the end of Covid-19.”