KUALA LUMPIR: The Pakatan Harapan government on Friday unveiled the 2020 Budget, which aims to ensure that no Malaysian is left behind in the country’s development.
The core measures of the RM297 billion financial plan were aligned with the seven core strategies outlined in the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (WKB2030) economic roadmap rolled out by the administration six days earlier.
The long-term WKB2030 blueprint was formulated and proposed by Institut Masa Depan Malaysia (Masa), a think tank, to accelerate growth and transform Malaysia into a new Asian Tiger alongside Singapore and South Korea.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told a crowded hall at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre that in 2021, the government would pursue WKB2030 at full steam.
Masa Council of Advisers member Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed told the New Straits Times that it was a little-known fact that policy alignment with WKB2030 had begun since June.
“The government’s Inter Agency Planning Group meetings, at the time, was crafting the policies of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), which will be aligned with WKB2030.
“I expect further alignment, across all ministries and agencies, will take us well into the second quarter of next year, where after that, the 12MP will be announced, ready for implementation on Jan 1, 2021,” he said.
Mustapa, who is the chairman of the Special Parliamentary Select Committee on the Budget, said the government was ahead of the curve in implementing the blueprint with the 2020 Budget adjusted to the WKB2030 theme.
“More importantly, it is important to get feedback from the people on their thoughts about WKB2030. This is to ensure that policymakers can incorporate these aspirations prior to finalising 12MP. In this connection, there has to be more intensive engagements with stakeholders.
“I would like to see every Malaysian supporting WKB2030 in the same way that they rallied behind Vision 2020.”
MALAYSIA ROARING IN 2030
The goal of WKB2030, said Mustapa, was to restructure the priorities of the country’s development.
He said the government would focus on achieving sustainable growth along with fair and equitable distribution of wealth among income and ethnic groups, regions and supply chains.
“WKB2030 aims to create a framework that will guide Malaysia’s economy to become more sustainable and inclusive.
“We plan to become an Asian Tiger once more by redirecting our economic instruments to holistic development focusing on Asean and the greater Asian market; the promotion of Malaysia’s intellectual property and brands to the global market; incentivising quality foreign investments and developing regional hubs in Malaysia; and, increasing the production and export of high value-added products.”
Mustapa, however, anticipated that there would be challenges in implementing WKB2030.
“While we have to stay the course, the implementation machinery in the government has to be beefed up with quality human capital and the commitment to reduce the habit of working in silos.”
Under WKB2030, the government identified 15 Key Economic Growth Activities (KEGAs). With his vast experience in international trade, Mustapa described green economy, as well as smart and high-value agriculture, as the most important of the KEGAs.
“Two of the most critical components in any economy are energy and people’s welfare. In other words, we have to start thinking about how we can minimise dependence on energy and food imports.
“For example, 53 per cent of the country’s energy is derived from overseas through 100 per cent imported coal. And we also almost exclusively import animal feed for livestock.
“This poses a risk to our country’s energy and food sovereignty. Thus, KEGA11 and 13, which focus on renewable energy and high-value smart agriculture, respectively, are some of the most important aspects. We must begin to build energy and food sovereignty.”
The other KEGAs are Islamic finance hub, digital economy, Industrial Revolution 4.0, content industry, Asean hub, halal and food industry, commodity, logistics, transportation and sustainable mobility, coastal and maritime economy, centres of excellence, green economy, advance and modern services and tourism.
KEGAs, he said, outlined further development of the country’s key and strategic endowments.
“It emphasises the growth of new industries and business ecosystems that will play a major role in creating a high-value economy for Malaysia and increasing people’s income.
“As such, each KEGA will have its role to play towards building a more robust, resilient and sustainable Malaysian economy. In terms of priorities, high tech and new growth areas will be high up.”
The government has identified 10 targets. They include achieving RM3.4 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP) with an average growth rate of 4.7 per cent annually from 2021 to 2030.
Factoring the percentage increase in the constant prices that could be achieved between last year and 2030 with the inflation rate of 2.3 per cent within the same period, Mustapa said he was confident the targeted GDP was achievable
“But, of course, we cannot be complacent. We need to be aware of more intensive competition from our neighbours and the need to boost productivity.”
Other targets in WKB2030 include boosting contributions from Bumiputera enterprises to the national income by 20 per cent.
“To realise this, WKB2030 will incentivise small- and medium-scale Bumiputera enterprises (SMEs) to form at least 30 per cent of new high-technology companies in the manufacturing and services sub-sectors, and at least 20 per cent of high-technology Bumiputera SMEs in each sub-sector.”
In reality, Mustapa said, the government could provide only assistance and it was up to SMEs to be the catalyst for making Bumiputera companies participate not just in the Malaysian economy, but also globally.
“Having said that, I am excited that some young Bumiputeras are in the advanced and digital economies.
“With reforms in education and more focus on technical and vocational education and training , I hope more Bumiputeras will
become successful in the new growth areas.”
He called on the private sector to work with the government in realising WKB2030.
“The private sector will have to be the main engine of growth with the government setting clear policy directions and providing implementation support.”
He said the WKB2030 framework was a holistic approach incorporating the restructuring of the economy to become more progressive, knowledge-based and high value with community participation at all levels.
“This blueprint will address economic disparities across income groups, ethnicities, regions and supply chains to protect and empower the people. This will ensure that no one is left behind.
“It was formulated to build a united, prosperous and dignified nation and a leading economic centre of Asia. Ultimately, all of us will need to own this vision to make it a reality.
“Let us focus on building a more resilient and competitive economy.”