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Rafizi: Malaysia can reach high-income status in next five years, if all goes well

Malaysia should be able to leap from being a middle-income nation to high-income by 2028 if everything goes right, Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli said today.

He said the transformation requires focus on the country’s economic growth in terms of gross domestic product as well as ensuring this growth is sustainable in the long run and includes all sectors of the population.

“On where to grow, it is becoming increasingly obvious that investing heavily in the digital and green economy is the right path forward for our economy,” he said in his speech at the National Economic Forum 2023 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre here.

The Pandan MP said that he had found data showing how digital technologies contribute to growth, productivity, employment, and poverty reduction.

“This is especially important for a country like Malaysia where productivity growth has lagged behind our peers even before the pandemic,” he added.

He also said that economic growth can be complementary to environmental sustainability, adding that up to US$1.1 trillion was invested into energy transition last year.

As for how the country should grow, he expressed his belief that it could be done by reskilling and upskilling Malaysian workers in a scaled manner.

He pointed to a World Bank report that said Malaysia needs to create two million additional high-skilled jobs, saying that only a third of Malaysian workers are high-skilled while another half are mid-skilled, he said.

“While this is slightly better than our regional partners, they are far behind our aspirational peers, where high-skilled workers,for example in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is about 40 per cent,” he said.

Last Friday, Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Tan Sri Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said Malaysia’s economy recorded a better-than-expected expansion of 5.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2023 (1Q 2023) driven mainly by private sector expenditure.

She said the factors supporting growth in 1Q 2023 include further expansion of household spending, continued investment activity and improving labour market and higher tourism activities.

In February, Rafizi said that Malaysia will cross the high-income threshold by 2026 if its growth rate stays above 4 per cent for the next three years.

The coalition government’s top priority now is to roll out policies that would raise salaries, including the possibility of introducing a national wage growth policy, he added.



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