KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 — Positive outcomes that benefit the people matter as they must be made to feel they chose right in changing the government, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said today.
He said if the government cannot succeed in making the people feel this, then it is in trouble.
“The people of Malaysia must feel they made the right decision of changing the government.
And that choice is only correct when they feel that not only has life gotten better under the new PH (Pakatan Harapan) government as compared to BN (Barisan Nasional), but their children have brighter futures,” Lim said during a meeting with Malaysian expatriates in the United States’ capital of Washington DC.
He said this is the main driving force behind the PH government’s economic policies, fiscal consolidation, and institutional reforms.
“Clean governance based on competency, accountability and transparency must be people-centric to generate growth, create jobs, improve incomes and purchasing power as well as enhance entrepreneurship to achieve this desired outcome.
“That is why we have to embrace the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and establish a digital economy for a brighter future for our kids, preparing our young for the future and the future for our young,” Lim said.
Despite criticism levelled at the government for being slow in fulfilling its election promises, he said the PH administration has managed to successfully carry out a number of major reforms earlier on.
“For instance, the reason why I am standing here today is Pakatan Harapan’s commitment to address the conflict of interest arising from having the same person holding the Prime Minister’s and the Finance Minister’s office.
“Another example of completed reforms involved the clean-up of government-linked companies (GLC) from political interference. In the few months in power, we have ensured that all board members of all GLCs are made of professionals instead of political operatives, in order to improve these companies’ corporate governance,” Lim said, adding without these efforts, the government would not have been able to tackle the problem of GLC mismanagement head on.
Terence Gomez, a senior fellow at the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, however, had previously questioned management of GLCs under the PH administration, such as the transfer of investment funds Permodalan Nasional Bhd and Khazanah Nasional Berhad from the Finance Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Department.
Gomez also pointed out that Rural and Regional Development Minister Rina Harun appointed politicians from her party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, to the boards of directors of GLCs under her control.
Lim said today that PH has reset Malaysia’s 2018 deficit target to 3.7 per cent of the GDP from the previous 2.8 per cent target of the BN government, after accounting for various off-budget expenditure into the government’s books.
“We will cut the deficit level from 3.7 per cent in 2018 to 3.4 per cent this year, 3.0 per cent in 2020 and 2.8 per cent or less in 2021, and we have shared this with Fitch, Moody’s and S&P.
“After listening to our plan, they decided to keep the Malaysian government’s credit
ratings at A-/A3 despite the fiscal challenges we face from prolificacy and corruption of the past,” Lim said.
He expressed his confidence that once the clean-up process has been completed in less than three years from now, the chances for Malaysia getting an upgrade “should be quite bright”.
Lim also pointed out the government no longer controlled the media, saying that Opposition-linked media can openly criticise it, in contrast to when Umno held Media Prima and MCA owned The Star during the BN administration.
“The fact that the government is not taking action against them proves its commitment towards freedom of the press,” Lim said.
He concluded by stating the government’s vision to turn the country into the Asian Tiger it once was four decades prior, able to compete with South Korea and Singapore instead of worrying about being overtaken by the Philippines and Vietnam.
“I cannot over-emphasise the importance of institutional reforms. Malaysia can no longer grow by building more and more megaprojects. We have come to the point that the quality and not just the rate of growth matters.
“These institutional reforms will help raise our growth quality and make it inclusive so that everyone has a rightful place under the Malaysian sun,” Lim said.