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