Vital to tackle inflation, says Malaysian Productivity Corporation
Malaysia has to address the current inflation problem, says an official of the Economic Planning Unit of the Malaysian Productivity Corporation (MPC). Measures taken to tackle the current inflation problem, he said, have included the National Food Security Policy, maintaining the retail price of petroleum products at the current level, and restructuring the fuel subsidy to benefit the poor and the needy, besides enhancing enforcement on prices of controlled items and review of financial assistance to the poor. The challenges to the country, he said, include not only external shocks such as the high oil price, slow-down in the US economy and greater global competition. There are also domestic challenges, such as fiscal deficits; need for new sources of growth; need to accelerate private investment; low contribution from SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises); lack of innovation activities as well as skilled and knowledgeable workers; and the need to address socio-economic disparities. However, the official added the Malaysian economy continues to sustain steady growth, with all sectors, especially the private sector (the main contributor to growth), recording positive growth, underpinned by stronger consumer sentiment and sustained business confidence. Besides, he said the country has focused on moving the economy up the value chain, through increasing productivity, enhancing competitiveness, and value-adding in the agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors, besides generating new sources of wealth in technology and knowledge- intensive sectors such as ICT, biotechnology and skills-based services. Generally, agricultural production has remained strong, said the official. The Ninth Malaysia Plan, he pointed out, not only focuses on raising the country’s capacity for knowledge and innovation but also on holistic human capital development encompassing knowledge, skills, progressive attitudes and thinking, and strong moral and ethical values. Other focus areas include nurturing science innovation, fostering a society with strong values, advancing women in development, empowering youths and addressing persistent socio—economic inequalities constructively. This includes eradicating hardcore poverty, halving overall poverty, developing competitive Bumiputera entrepreneurs and reducing disparities in income, employment and wealth ownership. Reducing disparities in development between states, regions as well as between rural and urban areas is also another focus, he added. The functions of MPC are to formulate policies and strategies for socio-economic development, to prepare medium and long- term plans,development programmes and project budget.