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Malaysia's economy 'defied gravity'

It is a hard act to follow. Malaysia’s economy has "defied gravity" and bucked the global trend to achieve admirable and commendable economic success. Malaysia ImmigrationMalaysia registered a healthy 5.6 per cent growth in 2012, making the country one of the best regional performers. In recent years, Gross Domestic product (GDP) growth has averaged above 5.0 percent, and that too, espite the hostile external environment. Malaysia’s resilient economy is characterized by credible growth, low inflation, full employment, rising investments – both foreign and domestic - healthy foreign reserves and strong foreign interest on the local bourse. The Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) is beginning to show positive results in all the National Key Results Areas (NKRAs), the National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) and Strategic Reform Initiatives (SRI). All these programmes and initiatives are designed, targeted to benefit those most in need and the poor. Direct assistance in the form of BRIM, the 1Malaysia Clinics, book vouchers, improved infrastructure, affordable housing, the Urban Transformation Centre (UTC), Rural Transformation Centre (RTC) and Community Transformation Centers (CTC), have brought essential services closer to the people. This has helped improve their well-being as well as national prosperity. The results are clear and tangible. Average household incomes have risen to RM5,000 in 2012 as compared to RM4,025 in 2009, an annual increase of 7.2 per cent. Over the past three years, Gross National Income (GNI) per capita has increased by 49 per cent to US$9,970. These improvements have been achieved despite the global economic slowdown. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said: "The significant income rise was achieved with the federal government's efforts in ensuring continuous, stable and strong growth in the economy. "The impact was via a widespread increase in economic opportunities which generated employment, with business and industrial development in various economic sectors". The benefits of these improvements are being reaped by many around the country. They include individuals like Mustafa Kamal Yusoh, from Kuantan, who processes Keropok. His monthly income has risen from RM800 to RM9, 500 as a result of the government help. He is not alone. Izham Bakri, from Sik (Kedah), a fish farmer, benefited from assistance under 1Azam and his monthly income of RM600 has risen to RM9,000. Meriam Abu Bakar, who operates a food stall in Kuala Terengganu, has seen her monthly income increase from just RM200 to RM5,000. The benefits are broad-based and businesses across many sectors have benefited from the numerous initiatives under the transformation programmes. Close to half a million high paying jobs have been created in just two years by investors, including those in the Iskandar Regional Development Authority and the East Coast Economic Region. Businesses and the corporate sector have also seen an improved operating environment. The World Bank in its "Doing Business Report", ranked Malaysia as number one in the ease of obtaining credit and fourth globally in investor protection. Investors have shown a healthy appetite for Malaysian equities and bonds. The London-based Financial Times quoting HSBC, points out that foreign holdings of government bonds increased by 550 per cent to RM215 billion since 2009, a clear sign of external confidence in the government’s reforms. The stock market too registered gains with market capitalization rising from RM999 billion in 2009 to RM1.47 trillion as at Dec 31, 2012, a robust 47 per cent gain. This translates into RM466 billion in additional wealth, in just three years. The list of achievements and positive results is long. Undoubtedly, there are those who refuse to acknowledge or appreciate the gains and positive effects of the various government policies and initiatives. However, multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Zurich-based World Economic Forum in its World Competitiveness Report and the International Management (IMD), have all commended Malaysia for the prudent management of the economy, while showing an improved ranking for the country in international competitiveness. Malaysia, according to the IMF, is the only country for which it has revised its outlook upwards. The World Bank gave high marks on Corporate Governance and Malaysia’s overall scores were higher than the average for countries within the Asian region. "It is quite impressive to see Malaysia’s gradual transition from an economy that was largely export-led, to one that is more balanced between exports, investments and domestic consumption," IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said, adding, she believes this is a sustainable pattern. Largade said her confidence was premised on two factors. "The First is the combination of short-term objectives and a much longer term vision with identification of those actors who will be driving the economy forward. "The second is that the country’s economy includes many players from the real economy, whether it is the public or private sector, as well as the financial sector," she added. This transformation and management of the economy has been carefully planned and guided by the government over the years. The foresight and careful planning has also enabled the country to deal with any crisis, through pre-emptive measures best suited to the domestic economy, and for recovery at a much faster rate. This is evidenced from the sharp recovery in 2010, with a GDP growth of 7.2 per cent from a negative (minus) 1.5 per cent in 2009. The implementation of stimulus packages, to cushion the impact of the global economic crisis in 2008, by economic planners led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is also Finance Minister, protected the domestic economy from the adverse external impact. The government, under Najib’s leadership, is clearly not prepared to rest despite the encouraging results and achievements. While others talk of change, the Prime Minister has introduced dramatic changes that have a long lasting impact. His bold move to review and abolish various laws and replace them with those that better suit the needs of the country, have been widely acknowledged and commended. In terms of transparency and good governance, the government, mindful of the needs and aspirations of the people, has been spurred to make a greater effort to meet their aspirations. The programmes and initiatives were subject to rigorous auditing and validation process from both local and international reviewers to remove any doubt about the legitimacy of the results.—Bernama Source: http://www.btimes.com.my/Current_News/BTIMES/articles/20130405160638/Article/index_html

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