Haider Al lawati –
Former Malaysia prime minister Mahathir Mohammed addressed several topics concerning Omani economy in his lecture during the Third Forum on Society and Economy 2017.
The forum, organised by Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Al Wusta Governorate, focused on investment opportunities that can boost economic diversification. He addressed some discrepancies between Oman and Malaysian economies, indicating that what was achieved in Malaysia cannot be done in Oman and vice-versa.
Dr Mahathir said productivity, quality, hard work, accountability, avoiding corruption, focusing on issues concerning the nation, not imposing high taxes or unfeasible provisions on local and foreign investments, and incentives for foreign and local investment are important steps in tackling contradictions that might thwart the progress of economic diversification and the country’s annual economic growth targets. These are in addition to openness towards opposition and consultation on national issues.
On the other hand, His Highness Sayyid Asaad bin Tareq al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations Affairs and Cooperation, the Sultan’s Special Representative and patron of the event, emphasised on pursuing income diversification and developing non-oil sectors.
Expressing hope that the Sultanate would benefit from the Malaysian experience, he said Omanis are constantly looking at benefiting from successful examples in various disciplines.
Since its independence in the end of the 1960s, Malaysia has been diversifying its national resources and not focusing on producing a single commodity but utilising all natural resources. Hence, it has been achieving economic growth every year despite the difficulties faced by other countries in the region.
World Bank has forecast a 4.3-per cent growth in Malaysian economy in 2017 and 4.5 per cent in 2018 after adapting to low energy prices and stabilising basic commodity prices.
With a population of 30 million and producing 600,000 barrels of every day, Malaysia has been producing numerous commodities and goods from agriculture and industry, besides utilising its tourism potential.
It is on the verge of a higher growth if oil prices and exports are to boom despite being affected by the decline of manufacturing and petroleum industries due to low global demand in the past two years.
Malaysian economy is growing despite a volatile regional and global market, and in a region with competition from other countries.
Malaysia’s total GDP growth reached 4.5 per cent in the last quarter of 2016 and 4.2 per cent in the whole of last year at a time when the country is facing major challenges and economy is still expanding, albeit modestly.
Experts believe the 4.2 per cent growth is not just a combination of a targeted rate set by the government under 2016 budget, but also a good rate amid global and regional standards.
Malaysian economy is still on the right path with better performance in this era with a moderate growth compared with many other countries. The local demand is still the driving force of the economy, thanks to the structural reforms launched by the federal government since 2009.
Both private consumption and investment, which supported the economy in the last quarter of 2016, grew alongside wages and employment opportunities, based on improvement in capital spending on manufacturing industries and services sector.
Net exports also grew, as the growth of real exports surpassed that of real imports in the last quarter of 2016, expanding the current surplus and lowering the chance of a double deficit in the near future.
Drawing from the Malaysian experience has become essential for countries of our region, especially that the Sultanate is currently implementing the economic diversification policy through ‘Tanfeedh’ programme, which is a new experience that we hope will help achieve further development.