BE­YOND A

New Straits Times - - Opinion -

IN to­day’s world, the mea­sure­ment of de­vel­op­ment in the form of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) is no longer suf­fi­cient to cap­ture or rep­re­sent the qual­ity of life or the stan­dard of liv­ing of in­di­vid­u­als, so­ci­eties or na­tions. This is where the dis­ci­pline of eco­nom­ics must evolve and pol­i­cy­mak­ers must take heed. The high in­ci­dences of wealth and in­come inequal­ity all over the world, and other noneco­nomic is­sues, such as the en­vi­ron­ment and the well­be­ing of the peo­ple, have made GDP in­ad­e­quate to measure the so­cial ad­vance­ment of hu­man­ity.

The need to look be­yond GDP is more ap­par­ent in high-in­come de­vel­oped coun­tries com­pared with the de­vel­op­ing Third World na­tions. For Malaysia, it is nat­u­ral that, as we are ap­proach­ing high­in­come ad­vanced na­tion sta­tus in just a few years, the call for the govern­ment to look be­yond GDP to measure so­cial pro­gres­sion is louder than ever.

An ar­ti­cle, ti­tled “Malaysia in 2050: Old, Poor, Sick and With­out Chil­dren”, pub­lished in a fi­nan­cial daily re­cently, high­lighted cru­cial trends and pat­terns, such as the age­ing pop­u­la­tion, men­tal ill­ness and over­all health con­di­tions of Malaysians, are prob­lems that the GDP alone can­not cap­ture. Hence, the in­evitable call to fo­cus on growth that is in­clu­sive.

The ar­ti­cle is a use­ful pointer in terms of the di­rec­tion of where govern­ment pol­icy should be headed in the near fu­ture. For­tu­nately, this is also the cur­rent main goal of the public pol­icy fo­cus in Malaysia. Un­der the Na­tional Trans­for­ma­tion Pol­icy (NTP), the govern­ment is now gear­ing up to­wards an in­clu­sive and sus­tain­able growth, as clearly seen un­der the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP), as a fi­nal five-year blue­print to­wards Vi­sion 2020. Malaysia’s eco­nomic plan­ning is also be­ing con­cen­trated on three cru­cial el­e­ments — cap­i­tal econ­omy, peo­ple econ­omy and public hap­pi­ness.

We have to ac­cept that growth alone is not enough; we need to strive for qual­ity growth. And, more fun­da­men­tally, a par­a­digm

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