DESPITE the uncertainties in the global economy, Malaysian companies are still active and contributing towards generating activities in the domestic economy, according to International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz.
The confidence in the Malaysian economy is reflected in the number of applications for projects from domestic investors, which had increased by 35% from RM5.2bil in 2001 to RM7bil in 2002, Rafidah said at the launch of Enterprise 50 2003 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
In addition, the soft loan scheme for SMEs, allocated RM80mil under the 8th Malaysia Plan, was almost fully utilised, with approvals for 69 projects valued at RM75mil.
Rafidah said that in an uncertain business environment caused by events including the war in Iraq and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, companies must undertake innovative measures to maintain their market share and venture into new markets and manufacture products for niche markets.
These external factors would have an effect on prices of raw materials, fuel and transportation costs. Malaysian companies need to improve manufacturing processes, increase efficiency, seek alternative sources of raw materials and intermediate products that can contribute towards reducing costs and increasing competitiveness, Rafidah said.
According to Rafidah, Malaysian companies must integrate with the international supply chain to benefit from the outsourcing programmes of the multinational companies.
Utilisation of information and communication technology (ICT) is crucial to enable companies to avail themselves of the opportunities to become suppliers to the global market, Rafidah said, adding that the government provided matching grants for the acquisition of Enterprise Resource Planning solutions and other related software as well as networking equipment and services.
Accenture Malaysia partner Mi- chael Foong said that Enterprise 50, an annual award programme organised by the company and the Small and Medium Industries Development Corp, promoted the entrepreneurial spirit, calling for the ability to thrive on, stimulate and embrace change.
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