Monday May 7, 2012
Be assured we are transforming for the better, even if you don’t feel the palpable effects yet
I WISH I could tell you that the Government and Economic Transformation Programmes (GTP and ETP) will affect all of you directly and immediately and that you would have enjoyed tremendous effects from them. But no, that's not the case, that's not true not always.
There are people who have been affected positively by transformation but you may not be one of them because while it will eventually reach everyone, it may not have reached you yet.
Or to put it more accurately, it may have reached you but you may not know it yet. I am not trying to be mysterious but sometimes the fact that things have not changed for you may actually indicate that the transformation programme is working.
Now, before you call me a confidence trickster, a charlatan or worse, let me explain. There are many things we are doing simultaneously in our endeavour to bring about a better life for all of us Malaysians.
They cut across many sectors and cover many areas and involve many people millions but they may not have a palpable effect something you can see, feel and touch on each and every one of 28 million Malaysians yet.
To take one example, the world economy is slowing in the aftermath of the US subprime crisis and subsequently the eurozone crisis. We are not out of the woods yet. But how many of you feel the pain from a world in deep economic crisis?
No, I am not saying that the Government is totally responsible for insulating you from the vagaries of the world economy, but believe me, we have tried behind the scenes to ensure exactly that that our economy still grew by a respectable rate even in the midst of uncertainty.
That's why I say things may actually be working even if you don't feel anything in this case deprivation and that's what I meant too when I said that you may not realise that the effects of the transformation have reached you. You may not be the typical person whom transformation palpably affects.
Let's look at our economic performance in 2011 and how we fared relative to the rest of the world. Despite the economic turmoil in the United States and Europe, our economy has done well based on the figures released by Bank Negara/Department of Statistics:
In 2011, our gross domestic product (GDP) and gross national income (GNI) continued to grow to set new national records of RM852.7bil and RM830.7bil respectively. In 2010, our GNI per capita was US$8,126 and this rose to US$9,508, a 17% increase in 2011. We are well on track to reach our high-income target by 2020.
Trade was at one of our historic highs, rising 8.7% to RM1.27 trillion. There were only two years in our history that we have reached this figure.
Private investment was up 19.4% to RM94bil in 2011, the highest in the last 10 years.
Confirmed investments will create 313,700 jobs.
GDP continued to scale a new height, albeit a modest growth of 5.1%. Compare with other economies in the same upper-middle income bracket, for example, Thailand (2.4%), Mexico (3.8%), Russia (4.2%), and we have done well.
Government revenue reached a new national record of RM185.54bil, allowing the Government to deliver on its ETP and GTP promises, and at the same time, beating its fiscal deficit target.
Why are these figures on the economy relevant to all of us? I would say economic growth provides growth of income which does many things it makes us more developed, it gives Government more money to spend on worthwhile projects for the people and it leads to a better quality of life. If we have more, we spend more and increase economic activity in the process the so-called virtuous cycle.
We do these things in thousands of ways, big and small. We focus on big-ticket items to get results, we focus on the areas where people want results, and we put in place measurable key performance indicators to keep track of our achievements.
But make no mistake about it millions benefit directly from our efforts too. Based on our estimates, Government's efforts to build rural basic infrastructure (roads, electricity, water and low-cost housing) have directly affected over 3.2 million people. But town folk won't feel the impact yet.
However, they do feel the effects in other ways as our efforts in the area of urban public transportation have seen a 36% increase in commuters using public transportation at peak hours in Kuala Lumpur. We are also taking further steps to totally revamp the face of urban transportation in the capital city which will positively affect over five million people in the Kuala Lumpur/Klang Valley area.
In response to rising cost of living, the BR1M financial aid of RM500 has benefited more than four million households. The Prime Minister's announcement on minimum wage last week is estimated to positively impact about 3.2 million employees.
Individual lives have been turned around through our transformation efforts. We have helped sundry shops become mini-markets, we are aiding the commercialisation of local herbs, we are changing the face of childcare and getting palm oil growers to obtain higher yields. Look up our annual report on our website for more details.
Last year, while in Seoul, I met with the chief executive officer of a South Korean company who came into the meeting with an air of absolute confidence that he and his team could do anything, no matter what the task was. We need some of that.
Even when we have achieved much, we continue to be cynical and disbelieving about it. Why? By 2020, we have a goal to make our country rich for everyone and for a long, long time. Surely no one can argue with that.
Surely we should all put our cynicism aside and work towards that common good. Surely, we must not put off living any longer which also means we should do the things now which will make us happier later.
Let me finish by quoting that eternal optimist, Dale Carnegie: “One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.”
Even as we enjoy the roses outside our window, let us plant more so that we can enjoy more of them in future.
Datuk Seri Idris Jala is chief executive officer of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department. Fair and reasonable comments are most welcome at email@example.com