Changes Necessary To Bring Progress

KUCHING: The government would have to be responsible and responsive to disruptive changes, including those instigated by it.

Such was the case when the federal government decided to introduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST), said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

It would have been easier not to do so, as what appeared to be a new tax � even though it simply replaced an old one � could seem to be a disruption.

We knew it wouldn’t be popular, but it would have been irresponsible to not have brought in GST, he said when in officiating at the opening of the 13th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) yesterday.

The premier noted that it was not just that the country needed to widen its tax base, which was one reason why 160 countries around the world have their own form of GST.

It’s also that with the plunge in oil prices, GST has saved us, he remarked.

Najib then chided the opposition, which had been harping on getting rid of the GST, pointing out that they were deceiving the people and deploying ‘fantasy economics’.

He stressed that should Malaysia aim to achieve its goal of becoming a high-income nation by 2020, the government had to make changes.

In this 21st century, governments and countries cannot just stand still and carry on doing things the old way, he said, adding that a responsible government must change policies in line with the change in the circumstances, for the wellbeing of the people.

If we do not adjust our policies, our nation would lose its competitive edge and get overtaken by other countries. We cannot, and must not, allow that.

Najib said the country is ready to take on disruptive changes, as indicated by the government’s long-term planning.

That is why, in line with our aim of becoming one of the top 20 economies in the world by 2050 through our national development initiative ‘Transformasi Nasional’ (TN50), the government is placing a special focus on innovation and creativity; and why we have championed science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), coding and computer science as well as technical and vocational education and training (TVet).

He said this was also the reason why the Malaysia Digital Policy was formulated in that digital economy would serve as a key driver of the country’s growth.

We aim for it (to) contribute 20 per cent of our gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020 � if not earlier.

Najib later moderated the opening session of WIEF, which hosted world leaders � namely Morocco Head of Government Dr Saad Eddine El Otmani, Comoros Vice-President Djaffar Ahmed Said Hassani, Republic of Tatarstan of the Russian Federation President Rustam Nurgaliyevich Minnikhanov, Islamic Development Bank Vice-President Dr Mohamed Jouini and Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning (Head of Bapenas) Prof Bambang Permadi Soemantri Brodjonegoro, who represented Indonesian President Joko Widodo � presenting their special addresses.

Earlier, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg also presented his special address, while WIEF Foundation chairman Tun Musa Hitam delivered his welcoming remarks.

Source: The Borneo Post