Malaysia has great record of us­ing ICMs in de­vel­op­ment

New Straits Times - - Opinion -

THE fig­ures are mind­bog­gling. The de­mand end­less. One of the press­ing chal­lenges fac­ing hu­man­ity is in­fra­struc­ture — the ba­sic phys­i­cal and or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­tures and fa­cil­i­ties (e.g. build­ings, roads, power sup­plies) needed for the op­er­a­tion of a so­ci­ety or en­ter­prise. The cor­re­la­tion of poor or non-ex­is­tent in­fra­struc­ture to poverty, dis­ease, job­less­ness, en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, such as air and wa­ter qual­ity, so­cial ills, such as crime, men­tal ill­ness, cor­rup­tion, alien­ation and rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion, is proven.

The World Bank es­ti­mates an­nual global in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments at around US$2.65 tril­lion (RM11.5 tril­lion) to US$3.7 tril­lion with emerg­ing mar­kets fac­ing an an­nual in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment gap of US$452 bil­lion. The Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment (OECD) es­ti­mates that more than US$80 tril­lion of global in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ments are needed up till 2030.

Econ­o­mists ar­gue about the suit­abil­ity of mea­sur­ing eco­nomic and so­ci­etal progress through the tra­di­tional gross do­mes­tic prod­uct growth in­di­ca­tor. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, im­prove­ment in and sus­tain­abil­ity of in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing op­er­a­tions and main­te­nance can also be a use­ful way of gaug­ing the progress of an econ­omy, al­beit de­pen­dent on the qual­ity of po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and so­cial gov­er­nance. The United Na­tions’ sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals (SDG) as­pire to at­tain sus­tain­able, in­clu­sive and high-qual­ity in­fra­struc­ture by 2030, which “is of cross-cut­ting im­por­tance to in­creas­ing eco­nomic growth”.

In­fra­struc­ture is a chal­lenge to any coun­try, ir­re­spec­tive of wealth and level of de­vel­op­ment. US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump strongly pushed this dur­ing his cam­paign­ing, pledg­ing to in­vest US$1 tril­lion in re­new­ing the coun­try’s crum­bling in­fra­struc­ture. China, with ag­gre­gate sov­er­eign wealth funds in ex­cess of US$2.5 tril­lion, launched the Asian In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank in 2014 as a de­vel­op­ment fi­nance al­ter­na­tive to the World Bank.

The world’s mul­ti­lat­eral de­vel­op­ment agen­cies last year set up the Global In­fra­struc­ture Fo­rum in

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