Policy reforms to pick up second half of the year, says Rafizi

Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli says 2023-2024 is a crucial period for the government to roll out economic structural reforms. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 25, 2023.

MALAYSIA’S pace of policy changes will pick up in the second half of the year to further push the nation’s economic reforms, Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli said.

He said the country will launch a new industrial master plan in August.

“We are phasing everything out to build up towards the budget announcement in November. There will be more clarity on a month-to-month basis because (what) we want to avoid is going ‘big bang’ with a list of things that we intend to do and six months down the line disappoint everyone with the pace of implementation.

“So, balancing between what we intend to do with how we do it, I think, is key to providing sustainability,” he said in an interview at the Qatar Economic Forum.

Rafizi said the government has done a major subsidy reform in the last six months and looking at good timing to ensure successful end results so that Malaysia is able to achieve a high-income nation status.

“Society is grappling with inflation and disparity in wages, and that’s the focus this government has taken… that the structural reforms go in chunk size, month after month, so it will provide a strong foundation. We hope the result will speak for itself,” he added.

He said this two-year period is crucial for the government to roll out its economic structural reforms.

Rafizi said the government is also focusing on energy transition with Malaysia set to launch a regional renewable energy exchange market that will facilitate and accelerate cross-border trade.

“We will develop organically for our market first so we can build the capacity before we take a bold step to lead the way towards a regional energy exchange.

“In the region, we will have to scale up our capacity by 11 times in the next 20 years and for that to happen, we have to invest US$150 billion (RM693 billion) in infrastructure to allow this energy transition,” he said.

The nation is also seeking potential in building the renewables digital semiconductor sector and diversifying to other components.

At present, Malaysia contributes about 30% in the assembly, testing and packaging of chips, he said.

“We are looking at some fabrication, given the presence of the world’s big-name semiconductors manufacturers in Malaysia. People talk about generative artificial intelligence and the consequence of that is definitely a demand for better chips and faster chips in the future,” he added.

Rafizi said Malaysia is also scaling up and keen to replicate the success of Penang in developing its semiconductor sector in another region.

“There are various activities and investments that can be spread across the country and we are looking at, for example, the central region, on the more high-end research and development data centres, and in the south, for instance, to focus not just on traditional oil and gas and new fuel but also renewables,” he noted. – Bernama, May 25, 2023.

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