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Good plan but difficult task, economists say of NIMP 2030

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Reposted from Free Malaysia Today, featuring Yugendran Sivakumaran Research and Advocacy Analyst of Bait Al Amanah

PETALING JAYA: The New Industrial Master Plan (NIMP) 2030 has elicited praise as well as words of caution and advice from economists.

Malaysia Semiconductor Industry Association (MSIA) president Wong Siew Hai has described it as “an excellent master plan” but also stressed that it must be continuously reviewed and updated to keep it relevant.

On the other hand, Bait Al-Amanah research analyst Yugendran Sivakumaran expects the unpredictable global environment to be a challenge while Bank Muamalat chief economist Afzanizam Rashid said transfer of technology from global players would be essential.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim outlined four missions to drive industry transformation when he launched the NIMP 2030 today.

Wong said the mission-based approach of the plan with its whole-of-nation approach and strategies that cut across industries make it more focused and viable.

However, he said, the key to meeting its objective was execution.

“The mission-based champions must be fully accountable for the key performance indicators (KPIs),” he told FMT Business.

“Strategies must be continuously reviewed and updated to make the plan relevant so it can keep up with changing new technologies while ensuring Malaysia is globally competitive,” he added.

Yugendran said it would be a challenge to achieve the NIMP 2030 goals in seven years given the unstable global environment.

“It is a possible time frame (only) if everything runs smoothly,” he told FMT Business.

For instance, he said, the government must be able to raise the RM95 billion needed.

“But then again, there may be some hiccups on the way, which may extend the time needed to achieve each and every goal and target,” he said.

Yugendran said that one target that would be very difficult to achieve was a RM4,510 per month median wage in manufacturing by 2030.

“It is important to remember that median wages are determined by market forces,” he added.

He said the four missions, namely encouraging industries to innovate and produce more sophisticated products, embracing technology and digital transformation, pushing for net-zero and safeguarding economic security, and inclusivity, would help to grow the country’s tech industry.

Yugendran said the biggest challenge would be in ensuring effective implementation and active participation of the private sector.

For the lower-skilled workers, he added, there was also the concern over how the innovation drive could affect their rice bowl.

As seen in the fourth industrial revolution (IR4) and artificial intelligence (AI), he said low-skilled jobs would no longer be needed.

“However, we cannot hamper technology. People have to see the bright side and that is the number of skilled jobs that it would provide and the improvements to quality of life that it would bring,” he added.

Yugendran said one way to help make the transition smoother is by promoting more upskilling and reskilling opportunities, in addition to ensuring the current education system is future-ready.

“A future-proof education system is the best weapon to combat this,” he added.

Afzanizam said the NIMP 2030 should help Malaysia advance important industries like electrical and electronics, chemicals, electric cars, and renewable energy to the next level.

However, he said, this would require the transfer of technology from global players.

“This makes attracting investments from these companies into Malaysia a strategic imperative,” he told FMT Business.

Afzanizam said this would have a positive spillover effect on domestic players, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which are becoming part of the global supply chain.

“So, the NIMP 2030 can be a catalyst for capacity building to help SMEs penetrate global markets and with the implementation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) at some point in the future, it could accelerate their ascension to become more competitive on a global scale,” he added.

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