THE Government has highlighted four main challenges it faces in successfully formulating the 9th Malaysia Plan, namely, enhancing competitiveness, ensuring prudent financial management, seeking new sources of growth and developing human capital.
While we can take pride in that Malaysia has strong fundamentals, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels, Minister in the Prime Ministers Department Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said in his speech at the Harvard Business School Alumni Club anniversary dinner in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Malaysias overall competitiveness ranking, according to the Institute of Management Developments World Competitiveness Yearbook 2005, dropped from 16 to 2004 to 28 in 2005, with sharpest falls quoted as government and business efficiency.
Mustapa called for more efforts in promoting regional and inter-regional integration by further diversifying trade and investment linkages in addition to free trade agreements being negotiated with Japan, China, South Korea and India.
In terms of financial management, the Government is taking measures like reducing subsidies, ensuring high productivity of its investments and strengthening revenue collection. Equally important are measures to reinvigorate domestic private investment as well as attracting foreign direct investments.
He also noted that the Government would have to ensure that new employment opportunities were created for people entering the labour force.
Mustapa described it as a big challenge and reiterated that one of the 9th Malaysia Plans strategies would be to create job spots for new workers, including graduates. Skill- and knowledge-based human resources have been recognised as a major factor in sustaining economic growth.
Mustapa said the 9th Malaysia Plan's main focus would be on strengthening fundamentals and the basis of the economy, while exploring new sources of growth.
Agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors have been targeted as key areas for growth, and various federal initiatives for the sectors have already begun.
New agronomic practices and technology would be utilised to modernise local agriculture, he said.
Mustapa said the Government would also emphasise on large-scale production of herbal products, ornamental fish and plants, floriculture and halal products.
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