Shift focus beyond Bumiputera equity ownership, embrace value creation and participation - Rafizi

PUTRAJAYA: Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli has called for a re-evaluation of the nation's approach to Bumiputera economic empowerment, citing the need to look beyond the 30 per cent Bumiputera equity ownership target outlined in the National Economic Policy (NEP).

He said the nation must also look into investment practices, economic participation and management control, owing to the changing economic circumstances.

"We need to consider that the trend of ownership or methods to acquire equity has changed compared to 20 to 30 years ago as we have a tendency now where investors prefer to use business nominees, and our laws allow it.

"So if we continue to debate whether or not Bumiputera are successful solely based on the 30 per cent ownership. I feel that it can be self-defeating," he said when met after a panel session titled 'Bumiputera Future Aspirations' at the 2024 Bumiputera Economic Congress at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre today.

Rafizi said with the participation of foreign investors in today's landscape, there is also difficulty in determining whether a company is Bumiputera status.

As such, he said, the Bumiputera's achievements were rather impressive where it is not reflected in the equity share as government-linked companies (GLC) are run by Bumiputeras as they are not listed privately.

"There are companies seen as Bumiputera because from the top, the CEO to the president and down to everyone else is Bumiputera but on paper, they are not Bumiputera because they are GLCs for example, so it depends on the definition," he said.

Rafizi said the approach needs to change towards the creation of Bumiputera involved in value creation and ownership.

"If we only focus on what has not been achieved in terms of 30 per cent equity ownership, the discussion will blind us from important matters including how to improve management control.

"How do we want to see more Bumiputera involved in participation and value creation, and so on," he said.

He said this as the biggest professional class in this country is actually the Bumiputera but measured in terms of value creation, there is a gap between the Bumiputera and other communities.

"The difference between the Bumiputera middle class and those from other communities is that more of the former prefer to depend on salaried jobs. So, what happens is after a few decades they merely add value to existing businesses like government-linked companies, multinational companies and their workforce are filled with a world class Bumiputera professional class."

"But if you look at the difference between those with more specialised skills in certain fields, those who have created their own value by starting their own specialised businesses and services, that is bigger among the non-Bumi." he said.

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