Malaysia's Vision 2020 on track

Malaysia’s surge from once a nascent developing economy to what it is now is described by some US experts as an "advanced emerging economy", is a reminder that the country is transiting to becoming a full developed nation by the year 2020, a goal that is embedded in the Malaysian government’s Vision 2020.

The level of development and sophistication characterising Malaysia’s economy today was also highlighted by Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, who is currently visiting New York with a  delegation of 14 Malaysian companies showcased under the Invest Malaysia USA (IMUS) 2013 roadshow to attract portfolio investors from the United States to Malaysia’s capital market. 

"In line with the goal of making Malaysia a developed country by 2020, we underlined our objectives to increase the country’s per capita income from US6,750 to US$15,000 in 2020.

Currently, we are around US$10,000 and are on track to achieving the US$15,000 income target by 2020. This is an all-inclusive income growth we are trying to achieve," Abdul Wahid said in an interview with Bernama in New York.

Abdul Wahid, who is rated as one of Malaysia’s leading financial experts and was the president and chief executive officer of the Maybank Group before he was appointed the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, reinforced the Malaysian government’s "deep commitment" to improving the earnings of all Malaysians, including the low-income earning Malaysians.

"Our goal will be to achieve sustainability. By sustainability, we do not just mean the environment-friendly and judicious use of the country’s natural resources such as oil and gas, but also the overall economic management of the country. 

Abdul Wahid spoke of the "dramatic transformation" of Malaysia’s economy which had moved from an agro-based through manufacturing to a services economy. "The services sector contributed about 55 per cent to the economy and has exceeded the manufacturing sector," he said.

Highlighting the positive attributes of Malaysia’s corporate sector, Abdul Wahid said Malaysian companies are better capitalised today, their debt levels are much lower than in 1997/98, when the devastating financial crisis enveloped a number of Southeast Asian countries, and their borrowings are in ringgit rather than in US dollars, thus cushioning them against forex volatility.

"The size of our international reserves then were between US$19 billion and US$30 billion. Today the reserves are around US$106 billion," he said.

With the formation of the Asean Economic Community in 2015, Abdul Wahib said that he was a "great believer in the Asean story". "I believe that the Asean leaders are committed to the Asean goals. Malaysian companies are successfully operating in the Asean region and this will, invariably, give American companies many advantages, including accessibility to a US$2 trillion capital market," he stressed.

In the balance-of-payment account, Malaysia is projected to have a surplus of RM25 billion this year. However, the payment account surplus was narrowing down attributed mainly to lower exports, rise in imports, particularly involving big-ticket purchases such as large commercial aircraft by the airlines. 

Facing shortage of experts and skilled labour, Malaysia is also trying to lure back Malaysian experts who work abroad. "We are keen to attract Malaysian expats living abroad to return to Malaysia and provide their expertise in their area of specialisation," he added.
Source: the New Straits Times 06-11-2013

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