KUALA LUMPUR: A strong political will is needed to push for renewable energy (RE) in Malaysia, says prominent economist Prof Jomo Kwame Sundaram.
Malaysia, he said, had a lot of potential in the space of photovoltaic solar panel and palm oil-based biodiesel.
“Now in Europe, cars are running on biodiesel, and here in Malaysia, we are debating about whether or not we can go further.
“The political will has to be there. We have to make a determined switch to promoting palm-oil based biodiesel, ” he was quoted as saying by Bernama.
Speaking to reporters after a presentation at the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs’ (IDEAS) Public Forum on Budget 2020 yesterday, he said the country needed to show that it was serious about RE production.
Earlier in his presentation, Jomo said an expansionary fiscal policy was now necessary, mainly to support Malaysia’s economy during the global slowdown.
“We won’t be able to avert the global economic recession, which is likely to happen, but at least we will be slightly better off, ” said Jomo.
He also urged the government to once again review the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), given the recent revelations by Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s former special officer Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin.
During the 1Malaysia Development Bhd trial earlier this month, Amhari, while reading his witness statement, told the court that the ECRL was among several mega-projects that were meant to bail out the sovereign wealth fund.
This, Jomo said, presented the government with the opportunity to reopen discussions about going ahead with the mega-projects, which he said would end up being a “white elephant”.
“I think we now have a huge opportunity to reopen the whole question. I believe we should not commit ourselves (to this project) - it is not a trivial amount, ” he said.
Apart from Jomo, PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had also called for the government to review the project, following Amhari’s statement.
The ECRL, which originally had a price tag of RM65.5bil, was cancelled when the Pakatan Harapan government came into power, only to be resumed on April 12 this year at a lower cost of RM44bil.
Meanwhile, IDEAS research director Laurence Todd said it was time for the government to come up with a divestment strategy on its shareholdings in government-linked companies.
This, he said, was in view of the
government’s high shareholdings in the listed firms, with majority stakes in more than 70 companies.
He suggested that the government implement a gradual disposal of its stakes down to 10% of the companies’ total market capitalisation by 2030.