‘TOUGH DE­CI­SIONS PAY­ING OFF’

Plan has made Malaysia more re­silient in the face of tur­bu­lent global econ­omy, says PM

New Straits Times - - Front Page - THARANYA ARUMUGAM KUALA LUMPUR tharanya@nst.com.my

THE Na­tional Trans­for­ma­tion Pro­gramme, now in its eighth year, has seen the gov­ern­ment tak­ing bold ac­tions to achieve Malaysia’s goal of be­com­ing a high-in­come and de­vel­oped na­tion. These mea­sures — re­moval of fuel sub­si­dies, re­duc­ing de­pen­dence on oil rev­enue, and the in­tro­duc­tion of GST — are now de­liv­er­ing huge div­i­dends to the peo­ple and coun­try, says Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak.

THE gov­ern­ment has achieved key suc­cesses through the Na­tional Trans­for­ma­tion Pro­gramme (NTP) de­spite hav­ing to make tough de­ci­sions to spur the na­tion’s growth, said Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak.

Since NTP’s in­cep­tion in 2010, Na­jib said, the gov­ern­ment had un­der­taken sev­eral “un­pop­u­lar” but nec­es­sary ini­tia­tives to steer the coun­try back on to the right eco­nomic track.

“As the re­sult of those tough choices, we have built the re­silience to reg­is­ter a 4.2 per cent growth in our gross do­mes­tic prod­uct in 2016 de­spite the tur­bu­lent global econ­omy,” said Na­jib in an in­ter­view made avail­able to the New Sun­day Times.

Na­jib cited the re­moval of fuel sub­si­dies, the re­duc­tion of the gov­ern­ment’s reliance on oil rev­enue and the in­tro­duc­tion of the Goods and Ser­vices Tax as some of the cru­cial ini­tia­tives un­der NTP.

Na­jib said the coun­try would have been left in a “highly pre­car­i­ous” fis­cal po­si­tion with­out the NTP, and that high-in­come na­tions like Switzer­land, Swe­den and New Zealand fol­lowed an eco­nomic model sim­i­lar to Malaysia’s.

Na­jib, who is also fi­nance min­is­ter, said NTP was in­stru­men­tal in cre­at­ing 1.8 mil­lion jobs and boost­ing the gross na­tional in­come by al­most 50 per cent.

“We have al­most erad­i­cated poverty, re­duc­ing it to just 0.6 per cent.”

He said the in­tro­duc­tion of 1Malaysia Peo­ple’s Aid (BR1M) and the planned de­vel­op­ment of 1.1 mil­lion af­ford­able homes would help low- and mid­dle-in­come fam­i­lies cope with the ris­ing cost of liv­ing.

Na­jib said, thanks to NTP, the coun­try was on track to de­velop a world-class pub­lic trans­port sys­tem fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of the Mass Rapid Tran­sit and other projects.

“The MRT will carry close to a mil­lion peo­ple over 100km daily — guar­an­tee­ing the peo­ple fast, re­li­able and en­vi­ron­men­tal­lyfriendly pub­lic trans­port. And if I could stress this again, the project is be­ing de­liv­ered on time and on bud­get.”

He said the up­com­ing East Coast Rail Line and Pan-Bor­neo High­way in­fra­struc­ture projects would be a “game-changer” for the na­tion.

Asked whether the gov­ern­ment’s achieve­ments would lead Malaysia to be­come a high-in­come na­tion by 2020, Na­jib ex­pressed con­fi­dence that NTP would help the coun­try to achieve this goal.

“I be­lieve so. Even neu­tral ob­servers who have seen what we have done, what we con­tinue to do have com­mended us on our com­mit­ment to de­liver.

“This is why all the ma­jor rat­ing agen­cies such as Fitch, Stan­dard & Poor’s and Moody’s — and they are not easy to please, I can tell you! — have reaf­firmed Malaysia’s credit rat­ing at ‘A’.”

Na­jib said NTP would gen­er­ate ben­e­fits for all strata of so­ci­ety to en­able all Malaysians to con­trib­ute to and share in the wealth of the coun­try.

“The road to na­tional trans­for­ma­tion does not end here — we must keep mov­ing and my gov­ern­ment will keep in­no­vat­ing and not rest in our ef­forts to­wards this.”

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