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#10MP* Take charge, Najib tells private sector

KUALA LUMPUR: The private sector must take charge in leading economic growth mainly by raising investments to the tune of RM115 billion yearly to ensure the success of the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP).

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, who unveiled the plan on Thursday June 10 said this was a key challenge towards shifting Malaysia towards a high-income economy and elevate its competitiveness in the international marketplace.

He also announced measures to further enhance Bumiputera participation in the economy, advancing small-and medium-scale enterprises, simplifying bankruptcy law to help entrepreneurs who fail due to unexpected business risks and a new competition law to ensure fair play in the market.

Najib said the measures will help propel Malaysia to be ranked among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of ease of doing business by 2015, which is not impossible as it has already become the 10th most competitive nation within a year, he said.

"However, the government will not rest on its laurels and will continue to strive to be among the top five in the world in future," he said when tabling the five-year development plan for the 2011-2015 period in the Dewan
Rakyat today.

In his 59-page speech, Najib said RM230 billion will be allocated for development expenditure under 10MP, of which 55 per cent will be for the economic sector, 10 per cent for security and 5.0 per cent for general administration.

Allocation of programmes and projects will be provided on a two-year basis beginning 2011-2012, allowing commitments to be made based on the government's financial position and on new priorities.

A detailed list of the programmes and projects for the first rolling plan will be ready by end-August this year, he said. The Prime Minister called for greater public-private partnership (PPP) particularly in implementing the 52 high-impact projects worth RM63 billion including seven highways, two coal-powered electricity generation plants and 3,300-acre land development in Sungai Buloh.

He said they could also participate in projects led by government-linked companies (GLCs) such as the Kuala Lumpur Strategic Development by 1Malaysia Development Berhad, covering the Sungai Besi Airport area, KL International Financial District in Kuala Lumpur, construction of the RM3 billion liquefied natural gas regasification plant by Petronas in Melaka and two aluminium smelters in Sarawak costing RM18 billion.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said that in efforts to help the private sector finance projects with huge economic spillovers, a RM20 billion Facilitation Fund will be set up under 10MP that is expected to attract
investments of RM200 billion from the private sector over the next five years.

Projects being considered under this fund include land reclamation in Westport in Port Klang, the Malaysia Truly Asia Centre in Kuala Lumpur and the Senai High Technology Park in Iskandar Malaysia in Johor.

Najib said the economy was projected to grow at an average rate of 6.0 per cent in 2011-2015 from 4.2 per cent in the Ninth Malaysia Plan with per capita income set to increase to RM38,850 or US$12,140 against RM26,420 or US$8,260.

Growth under 10MP will be led by the services and manufacturing sectors, in addition to revitalising the agriculture sector towards higher value-added activities as well as adopting ICT, biotechnology and other relevant
technologies.

Najib said a special unit under the Prime Minister's Department will set the direction and drive the National Innovation System and innovation policies and strategies to enable Malaysia to shift to a high-income economy.

He identified 12 National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) with the potential to generate high income, among others, oil and gas, palm oil and related products, financial services, wholesale and retail, tourism, information and communications technology, education services, electrical and electronics, business services, private healthcare, agriculture and a Greater Kuala Lumpur.

Najib also announced that a Competition Law will be introduced to provide a regulatory framework against market manipulation and cartel practices that might affect market efficiency. A Competition Commission and Apparel Tribunal will be established to ensure more orderly and effective implementation of the law. As for financing for government venture capital companies, he said a RM500 million Mudharabah Innovation Fund (MIF) will be set up to provide risk capital.

To bridge the financing gap between early stage of commercialisation and venture capital financing for high-tech products, a Business Growth Fund of RM150 million will be set up to help these companies until they generate
sufficient commercial value to attract other forms of financing as well.

Bankruptcy laws will also be simplified to help entrepreneurs who failed due unexpected business risks.
"It will be a tragedy if a high calibre and credible entrepreneur who fails once, is not given a second chance to recover and become a successful entrepreneur (and) we are aware of many individuals, businesses and innovation initiatives that failed the first time, but became successful later," the Prime
Minister said.

In continuing efforts to develop world-class infrastructures, he said the electrified double-track rail project from Gemas to Johor Baharu costing RM8 billion will be built to complete the double-track rail project from Padang
Besar in the north to Johor Baharu in the south.

Also, a sewerage treatment plant using green technology in Lembah Pantai will be built, followed by similar plants nationwide. A new energy policy will be premised on, among other things, rationalising energy pricing gradually to match market price, taking into account current economic conditions and the people's affordability.

To ensure small-and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) have better access to financing, the government will provide an additonal RM3 billion to the Working Capital Guarantee scheme for which RM7 billion had already been approved before, bringing the total payout to RM10 billion.

SMES, which have obtained domestic and international recognition, will be given green lane access or priority in government and government-linked companies (GLCs) procurement processes.

As a further measure, the government will consider increasing financial resources of SMEs and the Agro Bank to help them provide effective services to such entrepreneurs while SME Corp will be provided adequate financial
allocations.

To help strengthen entrepreneurial development organisations like MARA and Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Bhd (PUNB), he said RM3 billion will be set aside, while RM1.5 billion of the Working Capital Guarantee Scheme will be allocated to Bumiputera entrepreneurs.

To raise Bumiputera ownership in commercial and industrial properties, Najib said a Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) will be set up by Pelaburan Hartanah Bhd. Najib said he will lead a high-level council that will be set up to plan, coordinate and monitor implementation of the Bumiputera development agenda.

On subsidies, he said price controls and subsidies need to be reduced in stages to eliminate market distortions and abuses. However, he reiterated that any reduction will only be undertaken after taking into consideration the people's feedback.

"I wish to give the assurance that the lower-income group and those who are most vulnerable will continue to be given assistance to mitigate the impact of any subsidy reduction on their cost of living," he added. -- Bernama
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