Shaping of vision and goals for 2050 and beyond
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
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.
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.