AS expected, this year's Invest Malaysia drew a large crowd of investors, analysts and fund managers although it is likely that previous similar events had drawn larger crowds, according to observers.
Notably, several significant announcements were made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, including the setting up of a foundation to address growth gaps in the market, with specific focus on small and medium enterprises growth, marketplace innovation and the development of new and existing talent.
The Capital Market Development Fund would be allocating a RM100mil grant to set up the foundation.
The Prime Minister also said a consolidated capital market compensation fund would be set up and would serve as a one-stop centre for investor compensation across the capital market.
As at June 1, companies taking part in Skim Latihan 1Malaysia programme would be entitled to a double tax deduction incentive on allowances and training expenses to ensure the country has the highly-skilled workforce it needs.
To promote gender diversity, the Government would, starting next year, give double tax deduction incentive on training expenditures incurred by companies re-employing women after their career break.
At the conference, a number of companies gave updates on their operations. In general, most remained upbeat despite the economic concerns in external markets.
Some even noted that now is the best time to go shopping for good assets globally as prices have become “more real” as opposed to a few years back when prices were on an uptrend.
Interestingly, the euphoria from Invest Malaysia may have spilled over into the stock market. Beating the bearish trend elsewhere in the region, the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KL Composite Index inched up about 20 points over the last two days.
There was also a notable difference in the trading volume to more than 900 million shares per day in the past two days as opposed to significantly lesser than this in recent weeks.
The conference was also interspersed with light-hearted moments. In a question-and-answer session with the PM, a foreign participant highlighted to him that he had stayed in Malaysia for five years, adding that the country had treated him very well.
The participant, who was from the West, went on to say that other countries such as the United States, Australia and Europe would provide a person staying long haul in those countries with a permanent residency (PR) status or even a citizenship.
The participant hinted that he desired to be a citizen of Malaysia, adding that he had investments in several companies locally. Soon after, the moderator opened the floor for the next question from another participant, but not before the PM asked if he could offer that particular participant a PR.
The participant said “Yes”, and the PM said “Okay, I will get you a PR”.
Light-hearted moments aside, some participants felt that execution of the Government's policies remains a priority if the country wants to achieve its many objectives, one of which is becoming a high-income nation by 2020.
A fund manager summed it up best when he said: “We have good policies, great plans ... but execution ... can we do it?”
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