ETP projects all in Idris’ ‘dream’, say analysts and politicians

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal and Boo-Su Lyn, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1— Datuk Seri Idris Jala’s insistence that the Economic Transformation Programme’s (ETP) mega projects will spur growth towards Vision 2020 has not completely convinced analysts and politicians.

They are doubtful as to whether the government’s ETP, which promises a heavy commitment from the private sector, would be able to transform Malaysia towards a high-income economy by the year 2020.

Political analyst Dr Lim Teck Ghee described Idris as a “cheerleader” appointed to rouse support for the ETP without possessing expertise in economics.

“I think he’s being the cheerleader without having a full understanding of the economic issues and problems in the country,” said Lim.

“He is presenting a kind of a dream scenario. What will happen in real life is likely to be very different,” he added, pointing out that many of the projects would likely not see the light of day in the event of a double-dip recession.

Lim noted that the various projects in the ETP did not go through a rigorous process of selection as only a small number of government-linked company and business leaders discussed those projects.

“The projects have to be scrutinised by, first of all, people who are in the market and who are in the know, who scrutinise objectively and independently. That has not happened,” he said.

Merdeka Center director Ibrahim Suffian expressed concerns that Idris’ bold development plans under the ETP which includes the new Kuala Lumpur mass rapid transit (MRT) system would not completely take-off.

“These plans place a heavy reliance on private investment. But Idris has not answered the question of how the government plans to attract private investment in the first place.

“How is the government going to attract private investors to come in and pump in the cash? The plans are good, yes, but the question remains as to how it will translate into real progress or growth,” Ibrahim told The Malaysian Insider.

The analyst cautioned that if no transparent plan was mapped out, the Najib administration’s plans for economic growth would fall short of achieving its goals of economic reform.

“The ETP’s plans might be like the economic approach in the past where the purpose was to strengthen business among the Bumiputeras, but this plan did not translate into real economic growth,” he said.

The various projects in the ETP include the MRT system, the “River of Life” Klang River beautification project in the Greater KL region as well as future 1 Malaysia malls in China and Vietnam.

Other plans include building a huge oil storage facility next to Singapore to form a regional oil products trading hub. A casino project in Sabah is also being considered.

The Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) said it had identified investments worth RM1.38 trillion over 10 years, of which 60 per cent would come from the private sector, 32 per cent from government-linked companies and eight per cent from the government.