ETP on track but vision some distance away

By Teoh El Sen, FMT

KUALA LUMPUR: The government’s Economic Transformation Plan (ETP) is on the right track but the light at the end of the tunnel is still some distance away.

The ETP was incepted one year ago and the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) chief Idris Jala is pleased with the results, so far.

“Things are looking okay… we’re on the right trajectory, we’ve not achieved our 2020 vision just yet… on track but we can’t declare victory. We must remember this is not a sprint, but a marathon,” the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said at a briefing of ETP’s one-year anniversary at Bukit Kiara yesterday.

Idris said some RM10 billion have been invested into projects under the ETP over the past one year, which was 64% of the RM15 billion in investments committed for 2011. Another RM5 billion is expected by the end of 2011.

He also said that Entry Point Projects (EPPs) were progressing well and a total of 70 out of the 131 EPPs, or 53%, have taken off.

“As some EPPs have multiple projects, we now have 97 projects which are in various stages of implementation,” he said.

The ETP aims to transform Malaysia into a high income nation by 2020.

According to the 2010 Auditor-General’s Report, the national debt rose by 12.3% at RM407billion. The economy grew by 7.2% last year, while the fiscal deficit maintained public debt at over 50 per cent of GDP for the second year running.

Positive progress

Despite saying that “progress was encouraging”, Idris also said that GDP growth stood at 4.4% and was “not as rosy as we would like” as under the ETP, the growth should be at 6% per year.

“However, because the 2nd half of 2011 is expected to grow to 5% and that the previous year’s growth was at 7.4%. We are still at about 6% in two years,” he said.

Of the ETP’s 2011 Gross National Income (GNI) target of RM494 billion, RM288 billion was reached so far; of the RM83 billion private investment target, RM51.2 billion was achieved while the targeted 684,000 jobs created, about 50% have been achieved.

“We are hitting all of them just about right… this is a positive progress after just 12 months. By being focused on the 12 key growth areas, the country’s private sector’s confidence in the local economy has also increased,” he said, adding that the final target for 2020 was to achieve RM1.71 trillion in GNI, RM1.4 trillion in commited investments and 3.3 million jobs.

Not happy being Mr Average

Idris also said that the only thing he regretted about the ETP was that it was not implemented 10 years earlier.

“If we started 10 years ago, we would have made it… 10 years ago we were not focused and we tried to do everything under the sun. It’s like Usain Bolt trying to be a champion in sprint but also wants to be the best at long jump, marathon. If you try to be best at everything and lose focus, you’ll just be MrAverage,” he said.

Idris said a lesson learnt from neighbouring countries trying to go into high-income nation was that an economic plan needed focus.

During question and answer session, Idris said that the plan to cut subsidies was still in place.