IDEAS: Big deals with India good, but better if there’s transparency

Adli-AmirullahKUALA LUMPUR: A think tank has welcomed the large deals, amounting to almost RM160 billion, that Putrajaya recently inked with India, but wants the federal government to be transparent with the details and implementation of the agreements.

Speaking to FMT, Adli Amirullah, an economist with the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), said the trade deals with India were good for the country, especially as they would see some RM142 billion invested in Malaysia.

“Between 2014 and 2015, our trade with India decreased by 25%, so the new deals are a positive development.”

Adli said the deals would especially benefit the oil and gas, infrastructure and engineering, and manufacturing sectors.

In recent years, Adli said, the slump in global oil prices had slowed the growth of Malaysia’s oil and gas industry, while, according to Bank Negara Malaysia’s annual report 2016, the growth of the infrastructure and manufacturing sectors had also decreased in the last two years.

“The deals we’ve struck with India will help these industries and create jobs for Malaysians.”

However, it is important that there be transparency.

“The government must be transparent with the details of the deals as well as the implementation of the deals.”

Adli said this was crucial to prevent leakages, wastage or corruption, especially in the deal to develop an integrated maritime city on Carey Island.

The agreement between MMC Port Holdings Sdn Bhd, Sime Darby Property Bhd, and Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (India) for the maritime development is estimated to be worth RM100.23 billion.

MMC Port Holdings and Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone have also inked a deal to build a RM41.43 billion port, also on Carey Island.

It had been previously reported that the Port Klang Authority planned to build a giant port costing an estimated RM200 billion on Carey Island. It is understood that China, which is also undertaking big infrastructural projects in Malaysia, such as the East Coast Rail Link, is interested in participating in the development.

Adli said the India deals showed that Malaysia, as an open economy, was not overly dependent on China.

“Even without China, we can survive. We have other trade partners but of course without China, our growth will definitely be slower.”

As of December 2016, India is the ninth largest investor in Malaysia with investments worth some US$300 million (RM1.33 billion), while Malaysia is the 25th largest source of investments in India with US$829 million in investments.

Malaysia-India sign deals worth a historic RM157 billion