THE World Bank and International Monetary Fund have praised Malaysia’s resilient economy.
They said the nation’s prospects this year are bright thanks to a favourable external environment.
They gave due credit to the transformative projects undertaken by the government in recent years.
These have enabled growth to gather pace in an environment of fiscal and financial stability, thereby generating greater confidence in the economy, as seen in the stock market and the stabilising of the ringgit.
With oil prices trending upward, the country’s economic fundamentals will strengthen further.
It is hoped that the government will take the encouraging economic outlook to introduce more projects to ensure that growth is sustained beyond this year, so that we can become a high-income country by 2020.
One transformation the government is undertaking is the labour market.
To reduce the immigrant labour force to 15 per cent of its total by 2020, the government introduced a levy on employers using foreign workers that was enforced on Jan 1.
This will discourage the reliance on cheap foreign workers.
The government should restore the rights of labour unions to improve their bargaining power for better wages.
There are several proposals in the New Economic Model report and the National Economic Action Council to deal with issues affecting the competitiveness of the economy.
Among them are reviewing the large role of government-linked companies, particularly in commercial activities competing directly with the private sector; improving public sector governance, especially in financial management to avoid wastage and fraud; and raising the quality of education and training institutions so that they can produce better manpower with proficiency in technical subjects, as well as English.
We hope the government will introduce changes that will put the country on the path to sustainable growth and balanced development.
TAN SRI MOHD SHERIFF MOHD KASSIM, Kuala Lumpur