PETALING JAYA - Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will launch an economic plan today that will turn Malaysia into a high-income nation in 2020 if successfully implemented.
The 11th Malaysia Plan, which the Prime Minister will table in the Dewan Rakyat at 11.30am, will outline what needs to be done in the next five years to achieve that goal.
In a posting on his Facebook page yesterday, Najib described the plan as the last leg towards achieving Vision 2020, a direction for the country set by former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1990.
"It will chart Malaysia's direction for the next five years. This will be the final lap before we reach developed nation status, which is what Vision 2020 aims for," the Prime Minister said.
The 11th Plan is special for two reasons, said Malaysia University of Science and Technology School of Business dean and economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng.
First, it will be the final five-year plan for the country to achieve developed nation status as well as the high-income nation target which Najib set out in the Economic Transformation Programme.
"It could also be Malaysia's last five-year plan if the developed nation and high-income goals are achieved by 2020," said Yeah.
Besides economic strategies that 11MP will outline, many will be looking at the hard numbers, including the Government's fiscal targets and revenue projections for the next five years.
Ordinary Malaysians, especially lower and middle income earners, will be hoping that it will include measures to help them weather rising costs.
Housing, jobs and help with education are high on their priority list and many expect that the plan will address these issues.
The stakes are high for the 11th Plan, which will affect the future of the country's economy and colour Najib's political legacy.
As the man in the driver's seat, the Prime Minister faces tough economic and political challenges as he steers Malaysia towards Vision 2020.
While the country's economic development remains at a healthy pace, the drop in oil prices has reduced government revenues.
Dr Yeah said the Goods and Services Tax, along with an expected increase in tax administration efficiency, could partially offset this.
"With more involved taxpayers, it is likely that greater emphasis will have to be placed on the effectiveness and outcomes of government spending.
"Strategies are also needed to leverage cross-border trade, investment and production opportunities and threats that will increase as the ASEAN Economic Community starts to gel over the next five years," said Yeah.
On the political front, Najib's stewardship of the 11th Plan comes as mounting attacks are being made by Dr Mahathir over his leadership of Umno and the country, which show no signs of abating.
Political analyst Prof Dr Shaharuddin Badaruddin said the success of the plan would largely determine Najib's legacy.
"A lot will be riding on the successful implementation of the 11th Malaysia Plan, so its focus should be on concrete action by his administration to solve problems, such as reducing the national debt, increase revenue and boost efficiency of the public sector."
He said that while the 10th Plan was a combined effort between Najib and his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the blueprint to be tabled today will be seen as "entirely Najib's".