Friday, 16 June 2017

(The Star) Najib aims to achieve 5% growth

PUTRAJAYA: With the economy on track and indicators showing positive signs, the Prime Minister has pledged to work towards achieving 5% growth for 2017.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the first quarter of the year saw the economy growing beyond expectations – by 5.6% – the fastest pace in two years.

Another record performance, he said, was the export sector, which in March grew by 24.1% to RM82.63bil – the highest monthly export value ever registered.

Foreign direct investment, he added, also rose to RM17bil in the January to March quarter.

“Due to these strengths as well as the improving global outlook, our economy is on track to register higher growth of between 4.3% and 4.8% this year.

“But if you ask me, I’d like to achieve 5% and beyond, and we will try our best to achieve this,” he said in his opening remarks at the 2018 Budget consultation here yesterday.

Najib reminded the audience of the competitive global environment which required everyone to engage in high value-added activities to retain comparative advantage and remain ahead of the competition.

Sharing a table: Najib waiting to break fast with members of disadvantaged groups at the Integrated Terminal South Bandar Tasik Selatan. — Bernama

“We must continue to innovate. If you don’t innovate, you will die – as simple as that. We must intensify innovation as it is the differentiating factor driving profitability and long-term growth,” he said.

Touching on the importance of entrepreneurship and how it could enhance innovation and create wealth, he said the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone was a government initiative to provide physical and virtual zones to help small and medium sized enterprises capitalise on cross border e-commerce opportunities.

“The DFTZ is expected to double the country’s e-commerce growth to 20.8% by 2020. To jump-start this, (Alibaba Group founder and DFTZ adviser) Jack Ma and I are expected to launch the participation of 1,500 SMEs as part of the DFTZ initiative in October,” he said.

He also said reforms by the Government had prevented the economy from facing a recession, adding that changes under the national transformation initiatives had cushioned the effects of the global economic storm and prevented people from having to face more difficulties.

Describing the efforts as “the road less travelled”, Najib said the decision to undertake economic, financial and fiscal reforms had enabled the country to achieve a much more resilient economy.

“We have not taken the easy path but we believe the road we chose is the right one. We have been able to weather foreseeable external shocks to the economy.

“If we did not have the courage to undertake the transformation, Malay­sia, in my opinion and that of many others, would have been in a recession,” he said.

“To a certain extent, many didn’t realise that we were going through some difficulties, unlike in other countries where more austerity measures had to be put in place,” he said, adding that the Budget 2018 would be tabled on Oct 27.

Meanwhile in Kuala Lumpur, the Prime Minister distributed 500 packets of bubur lambuk and chicken rice to the public at the Integrated Terminal South Bandar Tasik Selatan (TBS).

The event yesterday was organised by the 1Malaysia For Youth.

Najib then placed a Negaraku sticker on a Transnational bus as part of the Ekspresi Negaraku campaign, aimed at cultivating love, loyalty and patriotism among the people.

He also distributed duit raya to the passengers on the bus that was bound for Melaka.

Najib then went on to break fast with disabled groups and the underprivileged before performing his Maghrib prayers with about 200 people at the main lounge of TBS.