Three things we learned about Shared Prosperity Vision 2030

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad officiates the new Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 in Kuala Lumpur October 5, 2019. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad officiates the new Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 in Kuala Lumpur October 5, 2019. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 7 — After Vision 2020, Malaysia now has a new framework to become a developed nation and that is Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (SPV2030).

The goal is to transform Malaysia into a high-income earning nation by focusing on high technology jobs that require specific skills rather than labour-intensive low skill jobs.

Ironically, both Vision 2020 and SPV2030 were mooted by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The first was in 1991 while SPV was launched on Saturday.

Here are three things Malay Mail learnt from covering the event:

The master plan: Looking after marginalised groups and addressing wealth and income disparities

Much emphasis has been placed on the poor in SPV2030; more than 70 per cent of those in the B40 group are Bumiputera.

The income disparity between the rich and the poor continues to grow and if not kept in check, threatens to balloon out of proportion.

Currently the income gap between the B40 group and the T20 group is more than RM10,000.

Dr Mahathir has also identified an important concern, and that is how many in the B40 category need to learn how to manage their finances.

Under SPV2030, the plan is to teach B40 households how to save money and and provide them with the training and know-how to become small business owners.

Putrajaya also plans to look at the income disparity between races. The Chinese are the best earners with an average income of RM6,582 compared to the Bumiputera at RM4,848 and Indians at RM5,428.

Dr Mahathir wants the Bumiputera to be more hardworking and follow the example of migrants who came to Malaysia in its infancy and worked hard at menial jobs.

He said all of them are successful now, unlike the current situation in the country where most of the 3D (dirty, difficult, dangerous) jobs are done by foreigners, which results in a large influx of foreign labour and Malaysians losing out on earning opportunities.

Corruption and abuse, be gone with you!

One of the main reasons Vision 2020 was not attainable was due to rampant corruption, said Dr Mahathir.

Under SPV2030, Dr Mahathir said the old practice of giving out government contracts to friends and cronies who do are incapable of handling a project, and in turn, sell these to third parties and pocket the profits must stop immediately.

From now on, all contracts, licenses, APs (approved permits) and anything else concerning the government will have to go through a rigorous process of identifying if the said person can handle the job.

If found to be in breach of any of the government’s terms, these contracts will be revoked or terminated depending on the situation.

According to the statistics and facts provided in the SPV2030 handbook, almost 50 per cent of government contracts in the past 20 years have been awarded to the Bumiputera while government procurement for development, supplies and services for the same 20 years reached RM1.1 trillion.

This number is too high, and is one of the main reasons Malaysia’s economic growth and distribution of wealth has been stifled.

Too few people are getting rich while the rest are left behind scrounging for scraps and struggling to make a decent living.

Shared Prosperity: Sharing not just wealth, but building a sustainable ecosystem

Compared to Vision 2020’s nine challenges which focused mainly on human values, SPV2030 will try to be inclusive.

Besides the Bumiputera, the government aims to be more inclusive of other races and wants them to participate in the nation’s growth.

Under SPV2030, there appears to be a realisation that looking after the needs of just one race will not help the country progress and by being more inclusive, the government hopes fostering better ties will lead to a “unified, prosperous and dignified nation.”

The tough part is how the government is going to restructure the economy and return investor confidence in Malaysia.

The plan to implement a needs-based approach to the economy rather than a race-based one is a step in the right direction, but it won’t be without its challenges.

Dr Mahathir is surely mindful that there are some who are beneficiaries of the existing system who will baulk at the idea of a needs-based approach.

But at the same time, the nonagenarian has consistently stated that the Bumiputera are the priority as they make up the most of the B40 households, but a needs-based focus is a fresh start to breaking the old cycle.

Only time will tell if SPV2030 is a success, but at least we know now the clock’s ticking, and there’s a deadline to this mission.

After all, a decade is a relatively short period, which is why the Pakatan Harapan government has no time to waste.

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