Jega, the globe-trotting economist

IMAGINE a Malaysian briefing parliaments in Africa and Pacific Island nations and advising presidents, prime ministers and their cabinet members on strategies for economic development. 

Former Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida) deputy director-general Datuk J. Jegathesan (pic) is one retired government official who has done the nation proud in this area. 

The globe-trotting Jegathesan works as consultant and senior investment adviser to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica). 

His country portolio includes Uganda, Ghana, Ethiopia, Senegal, Zambia, Fiji and Vanuatu. 

Jegathesan has come a long way from his Mida days. 

Datuk J. Jegathesan

“I work with the presidents, cabinet members and top civil servants of these countries, giving them pointers on how to overcome investment problems and to boost their economies,” he said in an interview when he was recently back in Malaysia.  

Jegathesan is seen as an economist who has walked the path and not just an “armchair economist”. 

After he retired from Mida, he was appointed as a consultant to Jica. He doubled as an advisor to assist in the Japanese Government’s Tokyo International Conference on African Development initiative for South-South Asia. 

In mid-March last year, he was asked by Zambia, through Jica, to assist in working out strategies for economic development and the way forward for Zambia. 

Jegathesan was in Zambia in June, August, October and December to brief the government and top civil servants. 

Following his recommendations, 12 task forces have been set up and he has been asked to be the coordinator. 

“This is a significant challenge,” he said, stressing that he is determined to see through the development projects. 

“My yardstick for success is seeing the economic projects and development plans filtering down to the grassroots and the nation prospering. 

“If the projects do not bring any benefit to the people then I have failed,” he said. 

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