Wednesday, 31 March 2010

thestar: No choice but to change, say NEAC members

Wednesday March 31, 2010

MEMBERS of the National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC) say the challenges Malaysia is facing leave the country no choice but to start changing the way things operate or face the prospect of being left behind.

NEAC chairman Tan Sri Amirsham Abdul Aziz said although there were doubts currently about the scope and magnitude of the changes, no huge leap was required, for example, for low-income workers to achieve higher wages.

“To achieve that quick move to higher wages, these workers need to multi-task, to be more productive,” he told reporters during a briefing on the New Economic Model (NEM) on the first day of Invest Malaysia 2010.

Amirsham said the timing and sequence of the changes were important but that workers who were displaced would not be forgotten as a wider social and worker safety net would be set up to support those affected.

He said the NEAC’s recommendations under the NEM were still at the discussion stage and would only be released in its full form in June when the 10th Malaysia Plan is announced.

Datuk Seri Panglima Andrew Sheng said among the changes recommended by the NEAC was growth through productivity instead of capital accumulation.

Professor Danny Quah said the country faced a situation where growth has halved compared with before the Asian financial crisis of 1997/1998, private investment has fallen significantly, the bottom 40% made RM1,500 per month on average and four-fifths of the workforce had only SPM qualification.

“We’re at the crossroads, the way is clear, doing nothing is not an option,” he said.

Quah said although there would be a big push towards the NEM goals, there would be a constant process of review.

On whether there was resistance to change, Datuk Dr Hamzah Kassim said the most challenging part was social transformation. “People must feel that they’re on a burning platform,” he said.


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