Madani government's focus on economic revival, quality of life - Amir Hamzah [Updated]

PUTRAJAYA: The government will focus on implementing the Madani Economy, focusing on restructuring the economy and enhancing the rakyat's quality of life beginning this year, said Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan.

He said the year-old Madani administration had introduced the Madani economic framework in 2023 to drive the economic direction of the nation.

Amir Hamzah said the government, through the Madani economic framework, aimed to raise the ceiling – rebuilding the Malaysian home by regionalising businesses, transforming the economy and increasing national competitiveness – so that the economic pie distribution is fair and equitable to the people.

"This includes efforts made by the government such as bringing in foreign direct investment through various programmes and missions," he said in his first press conference since being appointed to the Cabinet on Dec 12, 2023, here today.

Amir Hamzah also highlighted domestic investors' key role in boosting the country's economy.

"The government's efforts are to balance foreign and domestic investors, while the Ministry of Finance will continue to bring all parties together to act as a catalyst for growing the economy," he said.

Amir Hamzah said the government was also looking at types of investments through the New Industrial Master Plan 2030 and hopes to bring in new sectors and increase returns in terms of employment.

He said the government would also raise the floor – improve the quality of life of the people to create quality and inclusive income opportunities – by enhancing the provision of services, especially education, health, and basic infrastructure, as well as a wider social protection system.

"Raising the floor hinges on the employment rate and the government has introduced a unique progressive wage policy. It is important for the people to get better wages because it helps to create a multiplier effect and further stimulate the economy," he said.

Meanwhile, Amir Hamzah also addressed the country's fiscal situation.

He said that at the end of 2023, the national debt was expected to reach RM1.2 trillion or 63.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and, if guarantees and other liabilities are included, it will reach RM1.5 trillion (more than 80 per cent of GDP).

"From this point of view, the government's burden is how to service (mitigate) the debt. In Budget 2024, debt service payments stood at RM49.8 billion (16 per cent of national revenue)," Amir Hamzah said.

He noted that Malaysia recorded a continuous budget deficit for more than 25 years, since 1998, adding that the government enjoyed a fiscal surplus from 1993 to 1997.

Hence, the government would continue to work to reduce the existing deficit to a manageable level, said Amir Hamzah.

Regarding the government's spending focus, he said priority would still be given to things that brought prosperity to the people.

In addition, the government will look at targeted subsidies to channel them to groups that need them.

In terms of the government's burden on operating expenses, he said 97 per cent of the government's expenses were committed expenses and only three per cent were variable.

He noted that of the 97 per cent of the committed expenditure, 16 per cent was for debt repayment, 48 per cent for emoluments and pensions, while the rest was for other management.

Thus, the task of the Madani government was to expand the government's revenue and to ensure more room to spend on important things so that the people could live more comfortably, said Amir Hamzah.

"When we make changes, many people worry that the government does not care about them, but this is not true. The government is always sensitive to the wishes and hardships of the people.

"The government has expanded various aid schemes for the people, including the MySara 2024 programme to help the hardcore poor. The initiative has now been extended to assist those in the poor bracket with an allocation of approximately RM700 million this year," he said.– BERNAMA

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