Govt, business sectors need to collaborate to boost competitiveness

Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia (Samenta) national president Datuk William Ng

KUALA LUMPUR: The government and business sectors need to work together as ‘Team Malaysia’ to boost the nation’s flagging competitiveness, according to the Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia (SAMENTA).

It said the latest IMD World Competitiveness Ranking, which saw Malaysia sliding by seven places to the 34th spot out of 67 economies ranked from its previous 27th position in 2023, was a wake-up call and an opportunity for the country to reassess national priorities and strengthen the synergy between government and business to drive economic growth.

SAMENTA's national president, Datuk William Ng noted that the decline cannot be attributed solely to the government, as businesses and the Malaysian public also share the responsibility for enhancing the country's competitiveness.

"This necessitates an urgent reevaluation of our national priorities. While we aspire to be an inclusive country by having policies that support specific communities, this is hurting our competitiveness, causing talent flight and giving the wrong perception that Malaysia does not encourage choice and competition.

"The recent calls for boycotts, and our over-zealous reaction to things like concerts by certain performers, are also not helpful in our national branding and perception. This in turn has and will continue to hurt businesses and our economy,” he said in a statement today.

Despite the government’s positive effort in reducing bloated subsidies and closing the loophole in tax evasion via initiatives like e-invoicing, he said businesses must also do more to liberalise labour regulations and hold Malaysians accountable for individual productivity.

"Similarly, businesses, including small and medium enterprises, must quickly reduce reliance on unskilled and low-skilled foreign workers, adapt to the global transition to low carbon economy, adopt artificial intelligence and digitalisation tools, and cut reliance on government procurement and hand-outs.

"We need to adopt the mantra that ‘what is good for business, is good for the country’. The reality of post-pandemic is that the welfare of citizens anywhere in the world is tied to the prosperity of the country,” he said.

Ng noted that when businesses and the economy do well, Malaysia will be able to earn more for its coffers, build better roads, upgrade schools and provide better security and comfort to all Malaysians.

"This drastic drop in our competitiveness ranking is a once-in-a-generation wake-up call for us to re-assess our priorities as a nation, build a stronger ‘Team Malaysia’, and adopt a whole-of-nation approach to make Malaysia the beacon of economic growth and cultural diversity and tolerance once again,” he added. - Bernama

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