THE Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has described the proposed Budget 2004 as a challenge for the corporate sector to move into a higher level of development with an emphasis on greater use of information technology (IT) and skilled manpower.
MEF president Md Jafar Abdul Carrim said the budget had provided several incentives for the corporate sector to look for new areas of development on both the local and international fronts.
We can seek global markets and at the same time promote our own unique Malaysian brands, he told a press conference in Petaling Jaya yesterday.
Jafar said the budget called for Malaysian firms to acquire new technologies which would enable them to seek new overseas markets.
The recent acquisition of the Malaysian Microchip chip technology is an indication of this more aggressive stance, he said.
Jafar said the Prime Minister had called on the local business sector not to rely too much on foreign direct investment but to stress on domestic reinvestment.
We know that South Korea, Taiwan and Japan had managed to develop economies without relying too much on FDIs but on domestic developments, he said.
He also said Malaysia was admired in the international arena for using its own ways to overcome the recent financial crisis.
As such, we have now become stronger and are being regarded as a model country for the rest of the developing world, he said.
Jafar also said the budget could be described as an election budget, as it had goodies for everyone.
With the exception of increased taxation on tobacco and alcoholic products, all Malaysians will benefit, he said.
He also said the budget had allocated a substantial amount of incentives for the small- and medium-sized industries and enterprises (SMIs and SMEs) which would continue to spearhead Malaysia's growth.
MEF council member Nik Hassan Nik Mohd Amin said the basis of international competition was now being fought over on the issue of quality and no longer on low prices.
Malaysia has become an increasingly expensive place for low-end manufacturing and we should strive for higher value-added products and services, Hassan said.
He also said the government should identify the country's human resources needs from the university level so graduates would have the required skill sets when they entered the labour market.