Call for National Productivity Plan

  • Business
  • Thursday, 19 Oct 2006

i CAPITAL has discussed the benefits of having an entrepreneur policy and the environment that nurtures entrepreneurs. This week, we will be presenting our proposal.  

We have always been stressing on the two key factors in sustaining our economic growth in the coming years: higher exports and higher productivity, efficiency and competitiveness (PEC). These two necessary ingredients for our future economic success are not isolated but are very much interrelated. 

Malaysians must be made to realise that it is only through sustained productivity and efficiencygrowth that our standards of living can rise

Without higher PEC, Malaysia can simply forget about succeeding as an exporter. And if we do not succeed as an exporter, we might as well forget about developing successfully. The equation is really very simple.  

i Capital thinks that the root cause of it all is the very serious lack of productivity, efficiency and competition-driven culture among Malaysians. To be sure, we have been tackling this cancer-like weakness but without much success. 

Failing to move to a productivity and efficiency based-type of economic growth in the coming years would mean that any economic chemotherapy that we undertake now would only postpone the inevitable.  

We were once asked: “If you were appointed Finance Minister, what measure, solution or medicine will you give to Malaysia’s current situation?” This is a challenging question and below is our answer. 

The situation and challenges facing the Malaysian economy have two key elements. One concerns the shorter-term issues and the other the longer term ones, both of which are interrelated.  

The Government has addressed most of the shorter-term problems but we need to move beyond these short-term measures.  

What i Capital is about to propose may seem rather unconventional or even radical at first but we do hope that the top decision makers and policymakers of Malaysia are reading i Capital’s proposals. 

Proposal One: Scrap The Five-Year Malaysia Plan 

If we were key policymakers, we would eventually abolish the five-year Malaysia Plan. It has been useful; it has served our needs. But with the changing circumstances and our economic transformation, it is now redundant. It is not a sacred cow and we believe now is the time to scrap it and move forward. 

Proposal Two: National Productivity Plan 

Our needs in the coming years are changing. We have to focus on different priorities. Malaysians have to be very clear what these are and what they need to do. In place of the five-year Malaysia Plan, we would want to replace it with a long-term National Productivity Plan.  

A big advantage of replacing our five-year plans with a long-term National Productivity Plan is actually its clear focus and thus simplicity. As part of our proposed long-term National Productivity Plan, we would want to put in two very important components.  

First, we must specify the productivity targets that Malaysia has to achieve or exceed over the long term. The target would be simple. For example, we can put our target as 5% productivity growth per annum for the next 10 years and the rest would logically follow. 

The second component that we would strongly suggest is for the Government to take the lead and launch a long-term nationwide National Productivity Movement. The main objective of this movement is to ensure that the primary focus of all Malaysians is sustaining productivity and efficiency improvements. We have to breathe, eat and even sleep with it.  

As part of the long-term movement, we would also suggest shorter-term productivity campaigns where all Malaysians must be made to fully understand and appreciate the benefits of higher productivity and efficiency.  

Malaysians must be made to realise that it is only through sustained productivity and efficiency growth that our standards of living can rise. Many are still ignorant of this basic fact of life.  

The purpose of the proposed movement is to make sure that every individual is productive and efficient. The idea behind this is simple: if we are productive and efficient at the micro level, then on an aggregate basis, we would have a productive and efficient economy. 

Malaysians must know what improving productivity and efficiency means. Malaysians must be able to make more with less. Can we import less and still export more? Can we invest less and still have the same high economic growth rate? 

Our proposed productivity movement is more than just implementing total quality management, quality control circles or adopting just-in-time production or on-the-job training. It is not just about work and management practices. 

It involves more than just spending more on research and development or upgrading workers skills. The National Productivity Movement must develop a culture where achieving the 5% productivity growth target is the focus of all Malaysians. The movement must assist the plan.  

l In a fortnight, i Capital will discuss how should we go about implementing the National Productivity Plan. 

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