Malaysia’s economy is expected to grow at 4.6 percent in 2019, according to the 20th edition of the World Bank’s Malaysia Economic Monitor, launched recently.
Given Malaysia’s deep financial and trade integration with the global economy, unresolved trade tensions, heightened protectionist tendencies among major economies, a sharper-than-expected slowdown in larger economies, as well as volatility in financial and commodity markets, pose risks to growth in the near term.
With an uncertain external environment and subdued business confidence, policy actions should aim to strengthen fiscal buffers, facilitate private investment and ensure adequate social protection for lower-income households, the report adds.
In the medium term, bold reforms and measures are needed, particularly to boost human capital and to increase the level of public sector revenues.
Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Malaysia’s Minister of Economic Affair, said: “The government expects growth to be resilient in the face of a volatile external environment.
“While we navigate through the turbulence, it is important that we remain focused on our pursuit towards becoming a developed nation, in line with our recent announcement of ensuring shared prosperity for all.”
Over the past year, Malaysia’s fiscal consolidation has been largely driven by expenditure rationalization.
Going forward, the report recommends reforms to mobilize public sector revenues to both diversify away from unstable oil-related revenues and to support future public investment.
Presently, Malaysia’s revenue from personal income taxes and consumption taxes both fall well below the average levels seen in other upper middle-income economies and high-income countries.
Reforms to widen the tax base should be accompanied by measures to expand and improve the existing social protection system to boost resilience and protect the vulnerable.
Current plans to move towards a targeted fuel subsidy framework would bring savings that could be used to expand core social welfare programs.
Re-energizing public sector
This edition of the Malaysia Economic Monitor includes a special focus on re-energizing the public service.
Building public service capacity is core to Malaysia’s goal of successfully transitioning to a high-income and developed nation and to fulfilling increasing societal demands for better quality services.
“We are very pleased to see that the government has prioritized ‘good governance’ and ‘integrity’ in its national development plans as they are critical enablers of Malaysia’s transition to developed nation status in the next few years”, said Mara Warwick, Country Director for Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.
While Malaysia’s public service performs well by regional standards, it falls short relative to advanced economies, particularly in terms of openness and transparency.
For the public service to fully realize its potential, Malaysia will need to
- invest in human resources management
- encourage and develop a more open, transparent environment
- undertake reforms to attract, manage and retain the best talent
- embrace new and emerging trends, including those related to rapidly-evolving technological innovations and digitalization