Malaysia has announced that it will be addressing the many pressing economic issues that are currently present within the country. These include mismatch of workforce demand and supply as well as red tape and regulatory setbacks in its upcoming economic plans.

The plans will also address low technology adoption by local companies, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the economy Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said.

He also said that the government would present three major plans in the next nine months. These plans include the medium and long-term economic recovery plan, 2021 Budget and 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).

The 12MP plan, which is scheduled to be presented to Parliament for approval some time in early 2021, will outline key strategies and initiatives that will serve as a guiding principle in navigating Malaysia for the next five years.

The 12MP will establish a clear strategic direction in ensuring inclusive and meaningful socioeconomic development to achieve a more prosperous society by 2030.

“The plan will be aligned with the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 and the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In the 12MP, new economic sectors and areas will be identified and developed to create economic opportunities for the rakyat,” Mustapa said.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic had exposed various vulnerabilities in the local economy and at the same time provided a window of opportunity to implement radical reforms. Even before the pandemic hit, Malaysia was already feeling the effects of increased competition over the past few decades. This posed difficult challenges for policymakers that were are trying to ensure that Malaysia maintains it’s competitive economic edge within the Asean region.

“Bold strategic shifts are necessary to address low value-added economic activities, inequitable income distribution and regional disparity. Development for all, addressing wealth and income disparities, and achieving a united, dignified, and prosperous nation must be our clarion call,” Mustapa said in his keynote address at the 2020 Malaysian Banking and Finance conference.

The government has also recently launched “MyMudah” initiative to streamline unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. This initiative was created to assist companies and businesses which were burdened by red tape and bureaucracy.

Citing the World Bank, he said businesses in Malaysia needed 17 days to deal with procedures related to starting a business compared to only 1.5 days in Singapore and Hong Kong and eight days in South Korea.

Mustapa also said the country’s high reliance on low-skilled foreign workers was contracting the economy’s ability to compete effectively. This was due to the mismatch between workforce demand and supply, in particular the unemployment of youth and fresh graduates with the low percentage of skilled workforce.

“Less than a third of our workers are in the skilled category. This has barely improved in the past 10 years. In 2019, non-citizen workers make up about 32 percent of total employment in the agriculture sector. Additionally, 23 percent in the construction sector, 22 percent in the manufacturing sector and about 10 per cent in the services sector,” he said.

Mustapa said the government had also upgraded the national employment services portal, MYFutureJobs, which will serve to provide jobs that matches services for job-seekers to find work that is best suited to their abilities.

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