The key points in IDEAS’ response to the NEM proposals are:
The NEM proposal is a very good first step to energise the growth of our economy. The spirit of liberalisation shines through the document, and this is exactly the type of approach that we need.
We are concerned with the ongoing suggestions from the ranks of government ministers about minimum wage. We believe that the government should listen to the NEAC’s advice that introducing a minimum wage policy is the wrong step for our country. For a fuller treatment, see our publication entitled “Adakah Gaji Minima Cara Terbaik Untuk Membantu Golongan Miskin?”.
- We are also worried about attempts to restrict migration. In order for Malaysia to leap out from the middle income trap, we need to keep our borders open, not close them.
- The most important issue that the government must consider is how to liberalise. In particular, since liberalisation will inadvertently involve privatisation, the government must take heed of our previous “colourful” experience with faux-privatisation during Tun Mahathir’s era. Steps must be taken to ensure that this time, liberalisation and privatisation processes are transparent, creating a truly competitive market.
- The government must also be bold enough to privatise GLCs that have the most spin-off potentials. The choice of GLCs to privatise must be made based on economic calculations, not political imperatives.
- We support the NEAC’s commitment to economic liberalisation and we applaud Prime Minister Najib’s commitment to this agenda. Liberalising the economy is the only way for Malaysia to become a high-income nation by 2020. The NEM proposal is a good start. All that is needed now is for the NEAC and the government to be coherent in their thinking and implementation, to ensure the NEM will truly liberalise our economy.