MCA Economic SeminarREPORTS BY HONG BOON HOW AND P.W. THONG
BANKS and financial institutions should improve their delivery systems to ensure that small- and medium-sized industries and enterprises do not face too much hassle and delay in securing much needed loans.
National Economic Action Council head of Special Consultancy Team on Globalisation, Prof Dr Mahani Zainal Abidin, said the increasingly number of businessmen willing to accept loans with exorbitant interest rates from Ah Longs (loan sharks) showed that there was something amiss.
“What we know is that Ah Longs are fast in processing loans and businessmen can get money in minutes once they have agreed to the terms and have had their pictures taken,” Mahani said at the MCA economic seminar on Maintaining the Growth Momentum: Domestic Investment Initiatives in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Mahani said commercial lending institutions were stricter in their loans processing compared with development banks which were more focused on the development of small and medium businesses.
She also said Malaysian companies should step up their research and development activities if they wanted to become successful in exporting and competing with imported goods.
“As multi-national companies relocate their operations to places which have lower production costs, Malaysia would need strong local companies to sustain growth and employment,” she said.
She also said Malaysian companies could explore the services sector with tourism, education, healthcare, leisure, transportation and food industries as the new areas of growth.
Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association president Callum Chen said Malaysia businessmen lacked the “can do” or “gung-ho” attitudes of the American entrepreneurs who had brought them success worldwide.
“Malaysian businessmen should change their mindset if they want to succeed internationally,” he said.
Chen said Malaysian companies should take advantage of China's low production cost and set up plants in that country to remain cost-competitive.
“We can outsource the lower production processes to China and engage in the higher production processes in Malaysia where we have the skill,” he said.
He said that besides being a centre for low production cost, China was also an important market for branded items which could fetch premium prices.
Chen said businessmen should explore simple ways of overcoming problems without resorting to elaborate solutions.
He said the American space programme engineers spent millions of dollars to develop a new pen that could be used in outer space as ordinary pens needed gravity for the ink to flow.
The Russian cosmonauts, who were also facing the writing problem in space, looked at the matter differently and decided to use the pencil.
NasionCom Sdn Bhd group chief executive officer Michael Ta said Malaysian companies should set up strategic alliances with foreign companies when setting up operations overseas.
He also said local and foreign companies should develop trust among themselves if they wanted their joint ventures to succeed.
“Partners should not have hidden agendas if they want to maintain successful and permanent ventures,” he said.