To believe TN50 or PwC

Prime Minister Najib Razak hopes TN50 will help Malaysia be ranked among the top 20 economies in the world in 2050. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, February 22, 2018.

A COUPLE days ago, a few friends sent a message listing 21 most powerful economies in 2030. 

It did not matter to me since our beloved country’s target of being in the top 20 is in 2050. The report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) about a year ago, ranked Malaysia at 27th in 2016 and 25th in 2030.

There is also another publication by PwC on the view of the world in 2050. Our dream of being in the top 20 in 2050 does not match PwC’s view.

The modelling approach in PwC’s forecast focuses on fundamental drivers of growth – demographics and productivity, which in turn is driven by technological progress and diffused through international trade and investment. It is based on GDP at Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) – at constant 2016 prices.

In 2050, Malaysia is projected to improve by one spot to 24th position. Indonesia will be fourth. The Philippines, Vietnam and even Bangladesh will overtake us, ranked at 19th, 20th and 23rd respectively. Vietnam in 2016 was at 32nd spot.

The average GDP growth per annum (in domestic currency) for Vietnam, Bangladesh and the Philippines from 2016 to 2050 is projected to be 5%, 4.8% and 4.3% respectively. Malaysia is lagging behind at 3.5%.

As a concerned citizen, I am worried about the rate of our progress.

It has been said from now until 2050, growth is to be driven by emerging market and developing countries.  

Today, we are chest-thumping and proud of the growth numbers we achieved last year but historically, growth is a cycle of ups and downs. 

We have to be very careful in developing policies to achieve our dreams. There was Vision 2020 which will not be achieved or even the new version called “high income nation” within the desired deadline. 

We had the New Economic Model which was dropped soon after it was announced. 

Blindly following policies of other countries or those espoused by international institutions may not achieve the desired results.

We implemented the goods and service tax and on average, Malaysians are paying more taxes. 

Meantime, subsidies and other forms of assistance were either stopped or reduced especially on most food price subsidies. 

Malaysians are now grappling with high cost of living and inflation numbers that touched 4.3% in September last year.  

We must have political systems that invest in public goods (such as health and education) including significant policy reform and innovation to make radical changes to the traditional education ecosystem. 

According to Bank Negara Malaysia, the state of financial literacy among Malaysians leaves much to be desired. Part of the problem for high household debts is due to this deficiency.

We not only need professional managers but also those with entrepreneurial spirit, especially in government-linked companies. 

We need to learn how AirAsia knocks on China’s door and do not need a minister to negotiate for more routes in China. 

In November 2017, Felda under the Felda 2.0 programme said it wants to transform all its land into “smart cities” by 2050. 

Sad to say, there are still issues on lack of infrastructures and facilities in rural areas. 

Apart from entrepreneurs, Malaysia needs to nurture and produce citizens with creative minds and patent their inventions. These creative people should be given sufficient encouragements to avoid brain drain.

Real policy changes is a major challenge and it requires commitment and determined efforts on the part of the government to carry through a policy, especially one which is not immediately successful or popular and affects the livelihood and well-being of the rakyat. 

They also require real political leadership to maintain momentum on longer term issues like effects on the environment and poverty reduction – in our present context, the B40 group. 

There are cases or trends in increasing income inequality and weakening social cohesion. 

Generally, ineffective government and governance leads to macroeconomic imbalances. Recent example is Greece with failing public administration and worsening legal system. If we are not careful, we may follow the same path.

Fresh from the oven, the Corruption Perception Index released today by Transparency International (TI), does not bode well for Malaysia. 

Despite major attempts to combat corruption, we are declining. 

Malaysia dropped seven spots to 62nd position in 2017 – the lowest position since the TI index began in 1995.

Accumulating wealth is not incompatible with the moral teachings of Islam. 

However, we are troubled when we see the wicked, the corrupt and the perpetrators of evil have whatever they wish in terms of wealth and perceived power, while those who are virtuous, good and honest are deprived.

PwC or TN50 is not playing God. Allah swt (glorified and exalted be He) had a plan for you before you were born. 

However, the plan is not cast in stone. He has a flexible plan for each human being – one that allows persons to benefit with his/her unique talents. 

“That is (without doubt) the true day. So, whosoever wills, let him seek a place with (or a way to) His Lord (by obeying Him in this worldly life)!” (Quran: An-Naba’ 78:39).

A year ago I gave some input to the TN50 initiative in an article titled “TN50: My input – What say you”. It is a good initiative but I pray TN50 will not be used to mobilise political support.

By the way, some people may just rubbish the PwC reports or do not trust it but was it not PwC whom we engaged to do a cost-benefit study for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

What say you … – February 22, 2018.

* Saleh Mohammed reads The Malaysian Insight

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

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  • TN 50 stands for Temberang Najib 50 is like a fart from an ass.

    Posted 6 years ago by Leslie Chan · Reply

  • I see another opportunity for ceramah fodder, on Najib's lanun-guarantee-to-fail economics.
    Just ask the kampung folks, Najib's TN50 only aims to improve 3 notches ranking to 24th in 2050, from today's 27th? In stark contrast, PwC report says Indonesia will be flying high at a lofty 4th as global economic superpower, in GDP at purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. The Philippines, Vietnam and even Bangladesh will overtake us, sitting pretty ranked at 19th, 20th and 23rd respectively. Vietnam in 2016 was at 32nd spot. Oh, poor Najib & Khairy.

    Posted 6 years ago by Kuasa Rakyat · Reply