Malaysia aims to boost private investment
Fri, Sep 17, 2010

By David Chance

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - Malaysia seeks to more than double investments by private companies over the next 10 years as it aims to double its income per capita and add 3.3 million new jobs, a government thinktank is set to announce next week.

Malaysian firms invest around 10 percent of gross domestic product, one of the lowest rates in Asia, and the government says it has identified 131 projects with investment needs of US$444 billion, largely from the domestic private sector.

Idris Jala, who manages the Performance Delivery and Management Unit, said that seven investments worth US$37 billion were ready to go with a "named investor and serious commitment".

Idris told journalists ahead of the official launch of the plans next Tuesday that of the $444 billion, 60 percent would come from private companies, 32 percent from government-linked companies and just 8 percent from the state.

That compares with 535 billion Malaysian ringgit (US$171.7 billion) of private sector investment over the past 10 years.

At present, around half the investment in Malaysia comes from the government, according to World Bank data.

Idris did not however specify any tax or regulatory changes that would fundamentally redraw the investment map for companies operating in Malaysia.

The investments cover 11 industries such as oil and gas, financial services, especially Islamic finance, electronics and palm oil as well as a new underground transport system forKuala Lumpur.

Idris said the plans were drawn up after consultations with 194 companies, ministries and government agencies.

"They (firms) made the choice (to invest) not because the government was asking them to but because they made sense commercially," Idris said.

Idris in May formulated wide-ranging plans to slash government subsidies across a range of goods from fuel to food only to see them run into political opposition and get watered down and analysts are sceptical that Malaysia will deliver.

While money has flowed into Malaysia's bond market foreign investment and the country that in 1992 accounted for 39.8 percent of all foreign investment into Southeast Asia accounted for less than five percent in 2009, according to United Nations data.

Successful Malaysian firms like bank CIMB and telco Axiata have increasingly started looking to other faster-growing parts of Asia to build their profits. --REUTERS

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