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Friday September 27, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday September 27, 2013 MYT 10:18:02 AM
by mergawati zulfakar in new york
Meeting of minds: Najib talking to US fund managers during a meeting at the Harvard Club New York. Sitting on his left is Malaysian Special Envoy to the US Datuk Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis. — Bernama
AFTER experiencing the latest technology and innovations in the Silicon Valley, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak flew into the Big Apple to make a pitch to American investors on the advantages of doing business with Malaysia.
The Prime Minister arrived on Wednesday morning from San Francisco and barely had a few hours of rest before giving an address at the Global Investment Symposium at Harvard Club, followed by a private meeting with fund managers and another meeting with American investors.
During the question and answer session at the symposium, he gave a long list of successes due to the pro-business and pro-growth policies of the Malaysian Government as verified by international organisations like the World Bank and Unctad.
Najib said Malaysia was looking for long-term investments in bio-tech, IT and oil and gas fields which have yet to be explored fully as well as massive infrastructure projects.
“I am quite concerned about short-term capital that comes in and goes out again, that will cause instability in the capital market. We need long haul commitment towards Malaysia.”
Najib also said Malaysia offered stability to foreign investors and continuity of its policies as well as an advocate of open and fair trade.
“The Government received 60% of the seats in the recent elections. I met a German yesterday who said (German Chancellor) Merkel is very strong now because she got 42% of the votes, so we should be happy with 60%.
“As democracy becomes more mature, it is something that we have to live with as long as we have the mandate from the people.”
Asked on criticisms that the subsidy system was one of the reasons for Malaysia’s deteriorating performance in the economy after so many years of surplus, the Prime Minister said the Government was committed to achieving a balanced budget by 2020.
“We need to send the right signal that we are moving in the right trajectory. I don’t think the market expects us to be balanced immediately as it is like committing political suicide because you have to introduce unpopular measures.
“As long as you are willing to introduce measures to improve the government budget over a period of time, that will assuage the concern of the market and give them confidence.”
He admitted that some people thought he was “daft” to raise the prices of petrol and diesel recently, ahead of the Umno elections.
“But I thought we needed to send a signal to the market that we are willing to take politically unpopular decisions but they are the right decision for as long as we are able to communicate well to the public, explain to them that this is a bitter medicine but it’s going to be good for you.
“We transmitted that message and the acceptance was generally good. So you can see that subsidies will be reduced. There will be a policy of subsidy rationalisation in Malaysia.
“We are moving in a gradual and committed approach to manage our total debt. We are mindful that the rating agencies and the markets are looking for the right signals and actions taken by the Government.”
Najib also said the key to making Malaysia more competitive was to train people in strategic areas like data management and Islamic banking and finance.
“We are sending people to top universities. I found out in San Francisco that data scientists and data management is a big thing and a highly paid job. We are a world leader in Islamic banking and finance but we are short of people.”
He joked that Malaysia would have more doctors and reach the 1-280 ratio soon.
“Malaysians somehow love to be doctors and fortunately we don’t have too many lawyers; we keep it that way,” he joked.
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