KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian economy is expected to register healthy growth in 2018, and further reduction of the deficit, according to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak.
Najib said as reported by the World Bank, the Malaysian economy was progressing from a position of strength.
“We continue to take all steps necessary to build the nation and promote the safety, welfare and happiness of the Malaysian people,” he said in his New Year message.
The text of his message was issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.
He described 2017 as a year of many milestones for Malaysia.
“Our economy beat all expectations, with the World Bank revising its estimate for our growth this year upwards not once, not twice, but three times – to a very healthy 5.8%,” Najib said.
The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and many other respected independent global bodies, the Prime Minister said, had commended the government’s prudent handling of the economy and recognised that its resilience and competitiveness had been built up for the good of the Malaysian people.
“This sentiment has been echoed in the confidence the international community has shown in Malaysia over the past year,” Najib noted.
In February, for example, he said, Saudi Aramco announced that it was investing US$7 billion (RM28.4 billion) in the Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development in Johor – making this Aramco’s largest downstream investment outside Saudi Arabia.
“HSBC is investing over RM1 billion to build its new regional headquarters at the Tun Razak Exchange,” he added.
He said many more multinationals were following suit, investing and building up their presence in Malaysia.
“As Alibaba’s Jack Ma explained, he chose Malaysia to launch the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) outside of China in 2017 precisely because of the efficient, business-friendly environment this government has been creating,” Najib added.
He said these investments, the new buildings, the new businesses and new infrastructure projects – the Pan Borneo Highway, to public transport such as the superb new Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) in the Klang Valley – were making and would make a real difference to the Malaysian people.
“More than 2,000 small and medium enterprises stand to get easier access to the global market, especially the Chinese market, through the DFTZ, for example; while the first two phases of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT Line have created 130,000 new jobs – 70,000 of which are direct employment,” he said.
Better still, Najib said, they were completed ahead of schedule and RM2 billion below budget.
This showed that Malaysia has the ability to handle future large-scale projects, like the East Coast Rail Line, which would do much to help the people of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan and boost their economies, he added.
“I am fully aware that some among us still face challenges and hardship, but the steps we have taken – and continue to take – will ensure that our country’s growth is sustainable and inclusive, spreading to and lifting all segments of society,” he noted.
He said he wanted all to share in nation-building and for no Malaysian to be left behind.
“This is why I announced tax cuts benefiting all middle-income earners in the recent budget, allocations for farmers, fishermen, smallholders and rubber tappers, discounts on outstanding loans for students, easier working hours for pregnant women in the civil service and a host of other measures to help ease the burden on the people and facilitate their full participation in our unique and richly diverse society,” Najib said.
According to the Prime Minister, in a democracy all that should matter was the wishes of the people as expressed at the ballot box, not the selfish dynastic desires of one man.
“Nor is it responsible for politicians to oppose for the sake of opposing – even when they secretly agreed that the measures being put forward by the government are right.
“We have seen too much of this, whether it be over goods and services tax – which almost every reputable economist around the world has praised, and which is a reform that most other countries including India and Saudi Arabia are also implementing – or over 1Malaysia.
“The opposition figures concede privately that they are in favour of this concept to promote national unity – as all patriotic Malaysians should be – but they have opposed it for deceitful, personal political ends. This is shameful,” he said.
In 2017, Najib said, Malaysia celebrated 60 years since the cry of “Merdeka!” rung out in the Padang in Kuala Lumpur.
“Although we live in a very different world today, one with very different challenges, I believe that the fathers of our independence would be proud to see what their countrymen and women have achieved in the subsequent decades,” Najib added.
Originally published on www.thesundaily.my