Shap­ing of vision and goals for 2050 and be­yond

New Straits Times - - Business / News - The writer is pro­fes­sor of eco­nom­ics at Sun­way Univer­sity Busi­ness School and di­rec­tor of Eco­nomic Stud­ies Pro­gramme at Jef­frey Cheah In­sti­tute on South­east Asia at Sun­way Univer­sity. He is also an ex­ter­nal mem­ber of Bank Ne­gara Malaysia’s Mon­e­tary Pol­icy

THE gov­ern­ment is em­bark­ing on a na­tional trans­for­ma­tion ini­tia­tive to can­vas what the con­stituents want be­yond 2020. More pop­u­larly known by its acro­nym TN50, the craft­ing of the new vision for the next 30 years will take the coun­try close to its cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion of its in­de­pen­dence in 1957.

Malaysia’s eco­nomic growth dur­ing the first fifty years can be de­scribed as one of the more suc­cess­ful cases in world eco­nomic his­tory.

It man­aged to sus­tain a high pace of growth over the half cen­tury, out­stripped by a few ex­cep­tions such as South Korea, Tai­wan and Sin­ga­pore that have suc­cess­fully in­dus­tri­alised to be be­come ad­vanced na­tions.

Bar­ring a dras­tic re­ver­sal of its open mar­ket-ori­ented poli­cies or a pro­longed stag­na­tion of the econ­omy, the coun­try’s cur­rent growth tra­jec­tory sug­gests that its high in­come goal is at­tain­able by 2020.

In what­ever form or shape that the TN50 vision and goals will even­tu­ally turn out be, their at­tain­abil­ity will be shaped by sev­eral key trends and con­di­tions that are of in­ter­est to the stake­hold­ers.

They in­clude not only the gov­ern­ment and busi­ness com­mu­nity but also all the as­pi­rants who will shape as well as in­herit the na­tion.

Aim­ing for the top 20

rich­est na­tions

Malaysia’s gross na­tional in­come per capita af­ter ad­just­ing for in­fla­tion grew at 3.9 per cent per an­num in the first 50 years. By 2015, the coun­try’s per capita in­come was ranked 60th among more than 200 coun­tries.

As­sum­ing that the av­er­age per in­come growth of 3.8 per cent over the last five years is main­tained for all coun­tries, Malaysia’s rank­ing is pro­jected to rise to around 40th po­si­tion.

While there is much un­cer­tainty over the fu­ture growth path and the rel­a­tive per­for­mance of the in­di­vid­ual coun­tries, es­pe­cially when pro­ject­ing so far into the hori­zon, main­tain­ing Malaysia’s cur­rent growth pace, will as­sure a steady climb up the in­come lad­der and con­trib­ute a larger share to world growth.

While over­all growth is vi­tal to any long-term vision, a sharper fo­cus on in­clu­sive growth takes on a more ur­gent im­per­a­tive in the post-global fi­nan­cial cri­sis era.

Not only is eq­ui­table growth im­por­tant to ad­dress the grow­ing in­come in­equal­ity within and across na­tions, it is also seen to be nec­es­sary to counter the antiglob­al­i­sa­tion and anti-trade sen­ti­ments that threaten to de­rail global growth and pros­per­ity over the past five decades.

Catch­ing de­mo­graphic


Part of the rea­son for Malaysia’s steady per capita in­come growth de­spite the mod­er­at­ing pace of the over­all econ­omy is the slower pop­u­la­tion in­crease. It av­er­aged 2.6 per cent per an­num in the first five decades and it is pro­jected to slow down to around one per cent per an­num in the sec­ond half to 2050. With an av­er­age growth in the coun­try’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct of four to five per cent, the pro­jected per in­come growth of 3.8 per cent is a rea­son­able base­line sce­nario.

The de­mo­graphic div­i­dend’s win­dow how­ever is get­ting smaller whereby the coun­try risks “get­ting old be­fore be­com­ing rich”.

Dis­rup­tions will be the norm

The rapid ad­vance­ment of in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy along with dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, glob­alised net­works and con­nected de­vices in the era of In­ter­net-of-Things will shape much of what the fu­ture econ­omy will be like.

All sec­tors, in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment and busi­nesses, will face dis­rup­tions sooner or later in the dig­i­tal age. Ed­u­ca­tion and learn­ing will be vastly dif­fer­ent from to­day.

Changes in how ser­vices and prod­ucts are man­u­fac­tured and de­liv­ered with ris­ing con­nec­tiv­ity and mo­bil­ity will blur the for­mal and in­for­mal learn­ing en­vi­ron­ments in the work­place and ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, per­haps merg­ing the two by 2050.

Given the im­mense com­plex­i­ties and un­cer­tain­ties in an­tic­i­pat­ing what lies ahead, Malaysia’s vision for 2050 along with the uni­ver­sally adopted sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals for 2030 will serve as use­ful mile­stones for pol­i­cy­mak­ers and stake­hold­ers.

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