Wednesday, 10 March 2021:  The CME-BAA Macroeconomic Observatory (MEO), a joint platform promoted by the Center for Market Education and Bait Al Amanah, strongly implores the government to allow Parliament to reconvene immediately to table the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP). 

The year 2020 marked the end of the 11th Malaysia Plan and Vision 2020. Since then and more precisely, since Malaysia was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been no clear medium or long-term economic direction or development strategy to propel Malaysia’s socioeconomic growth. 

Instead, the short-term national economic recovery plan (PENJANA) and other stimulus packages mainly comprised of stop-gap measures focusing on job and income protection. “Despite the helpful and timely initiatives announced, Malaysia still lacked a mainline economic narrative to instill confidence among businesses and investors on the future direction of the nation”, explained Benedict Weerasena, economist of Bait Al Amanah. 

Over the past 6 decades, national development planning has been central in guiding policymaking. Since the commencement of the first Malayan Five Year Plan in 1955, the successive development plans have been a beacon in promoting growth and key socio-economic reforms in the midst of both favorable economic climates and tough recessions. Despite several setbacks, the plans have been instrumental in largely eradicating hardcore poverty, growing the middle class, increasing prosperity and social well-being, diversifying the economy and enabling Malaysia to attain the status of an upper middle-income nation. 

In addition, the clear economic direction among other key factors propelled Malaysia to become a leading regional destination for investment in the region in the early years. 

However, Malaysia has lost its attractiveness in recent years with regional counterparts such as Indonesia and Vietnam steaming ahead with better growth trajectories and policy competitiveness. Indeed, the prolonged absence of a clear and strategic development direction in addition to political instability will leave Malaysia lagging behind in the years to come. 

As explained by Dr Carmelo Ferlito, CEO of the Center for Market Education, “the key measures that needs to be adopted include a tax reform, an investment attraction strategy, a direction on international borders and restructuring the labour market”.

Under this perspective, the MEO emphasizes the crucial need for the 12th Malaysia Plan to be tabled as soon as possible and efficiently implemented. With the new circumstances and challenges that Malaysia is facing, there is a need to steer the nation in the right direction with fresh ideas and new insights. All in all, we cannot allow another eight months of 2021 to go to waste. 

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About CME: The Center for Market Education (CME) is a boutique think-tank based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As an academic and educational institution, CME aims to promote a more pluralistic and multidisciplinary approach to economics and to spread the knowledge of a sounder economics, grounded in the understanding of market forces. In order to do so, CME is not only involved in academic initiatives, but it organizes seminars, webinars and tailor-made economics classes for students, journalists, businesspeople and professionals who wish to better understand the relevance of economics for their daily lives and activities. Economics matters and needs to be presented in a fashion in which the link with reality is clearly visible. In this sense, we look not only at theoretical economics but also at policy making, with an emphasis on the unintended consequences generated by political actions.