PETALING JAYA: An economist has welcomed the government’s new policy agenda for shared prosperity but has reservations about elements which he says are race-based and could leave it open to abuse.
Ramon Navaratnam of the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute said the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (SPV 2030) could be a good replacement for the New Economic Policy (NEP) launched in the 1970s.
However, he said more clarity is needed on how it will differ from previous policies.
“The premise that it will be based on needs rather than race is good, yet it is disappointing that there are racial elements which can be seen in the race-based targets of the SPV 2030,” he told FMT.
He said these targets relate to matters of household income, median wages and financial assets per capita.
He warned that racial elements in the policy would continue to divide the people, adding that those who deserve help should be given it regardless of race.
Navaratnam, who chairs the Asli Centre for Public Policy Studies, also said more details are needed on how the policy’s goals can be achieved.
He recommended the close monitoring of its implementation to prevent abuse, recalling the NEP, critics of whom claim it was used to benefit those with links to politicians in power through lucrative contracts, licences and approved permits.
Another economist told FMT there was nothing new about SPV 2030.
Abu Sofian Yaacob, who lectures at the Putra School of Business, said such policies had been proposed before concerning the digital economy or Industrial Revolution 4.0.
“These are already in the pipeline,” he added.
He said the important thing was the implementation of the policy, how well it could be done and how quickly it could produce results.
He voiced hope that several core issues affecting the economy could be dealt with, and targets and deadlines set.
“We need to stop using foreign workers and utilise local labour instead, but to do this, working conditions and wages have to go up first.
“Equally important is that laws and regulations apply equally to all companies in the private sector. No company should enjoy favouritism or special treatment.”
These, he said, were key issues plaguing the economy which need to be resolved if the goals of SPV 2030 are to be achieved.
SPV 2030, which was launched on Saturday, aims to ensure development for all, address wealth and income disparities and build a united, prosperous and dignified nation.