PETALING JAYA: The five-year Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) has made progress in people-centred projects, especially in poverty eradication, narrowing the urban-rural gap and also enhancing healthcare and education.
The remaining half of the 9MP will see the Government stepping up efforts to improve the rakyat's quality of life via projects that bring benefits, including affordable housing, a better public transport system and food production.
It is learnt the Government could introduce a social safety net for the people, particularly the poor, to mitigate the impact of the surge in fuel and commodity prices.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is scheduled to present the mid-term review of the 9MP (2006-2010) in Parliament tomorrow morning.
In the report, he would highlight the progress of the 9MP objectives so far while also fine-tuning and tweaking the strategies for the balance period with emphasis on people-centred projects instead of infrastructure projects.
When contacted, Economic Planning Unit deputy director-general Noriyah Ahmad told StarBiz that the areas of priority in the second half of the 9MP would be on food production, public transportation and poverty eradication.
She said food production would be given very high priority, which would see the opening of new areas for cultivation of food crops, irrigation and increasing the yield.
On transport, she said, the focus would be to make the public transport system more efficient, with emphasis on railway as it was six times more efficient in transporting goods than roads.
On poverty eradication, she said, the projects were on track to reduce it to 2.8% by 2010. The overall poverty rate had been reduced from 5.7% in 2004 to 3.6% in 2007, while hardcore poverty had been cut from 1.2% to 0.7% during the same period.
Emphasis would also be given to improving the rural infrastructure in Sabah and Sarawak as the Government stepped up measures to develop the states and eradicate poverty, she added.
CIMB’s head of economics research Lee Heng Guie said the mid-term review was taking place in very trying circumstances.
“The economy has not only to cope with global slowdown, unsettled subprime mortgage crisis, but also confront domestic inflated risks arising from the recent hike in fuel, electricity tariffs and growing consumer price pressure,” he said.
Lee said that when the 9MP was tabled in 2006, the global environment was still strong but, at the end of last year and early this year, the global environment had changed a lot. “In the next two years, I expect the Government’s strategy would have to deal with new uncertainties, inflation, and how to sustain the pace of economic growth,” he said.
The economy grew at an average 6.1% in 2006-2007, which was above the target of 6% under the 9MP. Inflation averaged 2.8% in 2006-2007 and is expected to rise in the second half of the 9MP.
Under the original plan for the 9MP, a total RM200bil was allocated for development expenditure and in 2006-2007, the Government had spent close to RM76.3bil or 38.2%, Lee said.
Based on the recent news flow from policymakers, there might be a review of the 9MP projects given the higher costs, he said.
“However, people-centric projects would be accorded priority and the review would take that into account,” he said.