PETALING JAYA: The government should focus on reviving industries that have been forgotten for more than a quarter of the century, such as the photovoltaic solar panel and biodiesel industries in a bid to revive the economy, says an economist.
Jomo Kwame Sundaram said this was a medium-term strategy that should be adopted by the government to boost the economy in light of the difficulties faced in raising Malaysians’ stagnant income levels.
Speaking on the photovoltaic solar panel industry, he said that Malaysia is one of the largest producers and exporters of these panels in the world.
However, he said there is only one major local company producing such panels in Malaysia, with the rest of the firms all foreign-based.
“If we look at the technology, it is not really that advanced and the equipment is not difficult to produce,” he said.
“If we look at (national car company) Proton, it needs more than 4,000 components (to produce a car) whereas we only need less than 200 to make a solar panel,” he said during a programme organised by Astro Awani.
Touching on the palm oil-based biodiesel industry, Jomo said that it had been talked about since the 1980s but there has yet to be any “serious progress” in its development.
“And it is needed at the international level,” added Jomo, in reference to the huge demand for biodiesel fuel globally.
Biodiesel fuel’s importance as an alternative to fossil fuel has gained prominence due to worsening climate change.
In a Reuters report in May, the country announced that it would decelerate the implementation of its biodiesel mandate and cut its export tax on palm oil to help meet global demand amid an edible oil shortage.