Economists: Malaysia must push harder for growth in productivity


They say despite some growth in this area, Malaysia still lags behind countries such as Singapore, South Korea and Japan.

PETALING JAYA: Economists say Malaysia must push harder to raise productivity in order to realise its goal of becoming a high-income nation.

This follows statistics released by Malaysia Productivity Corp last Wednesday, showing only 0.5% labour productivity growth from 2015 to 2016.

Although the country’s growth in this area had “inched” up from 3.4% (RM75,548) to 3.5% (RM78,218), Socio-Economic Research Centre (SERC) executive director Lee Heng Guie said it was not satisfactory.

“Though Malaysia’s labour productivity growth inched to 3.5% in 2016 from 3.4% in 2015, it was far from satisfactory as this marked two successive years of slowing growth from 3.7% achieved in 2013,” he told The Edge Financial Daily.

He added that Malaysia’s average productivity growth over the past decade had been 2%, pointing out that it still lagged behind other developed countries such as Singapore, South Korea and Japan.

Likewise, economist Yeah Kim Leng said Malaysia is under-performing given its resources, its relatively high savings rate and the growing population.

Yeah, who is professor of economics at Sunway University Business School, told The Edge that it would be challenging to close the productivity gap between Malaysia and more advanced economies.

“We have invested more than other countries in terms of developing our human capital, but that has not translated into much higher productivity levels. It’s not in line with what we have invested,” he was quoted as saying.

Yeah cited the higher proportion of low and semi-skilled workers in the labour force and the current technology levels as some of the underlying factors.

According to the 11th Malaysia Plan, the government aims to register an average annual growth of 3.7%.


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