Budget 2019: Sustainable Growth in New Malaysia

Minister of Finance Y.B. Tuan Lim Guan Eng joined a closed-door luncheon with members of the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) on Thursday to convey his Ministry’s rationale behind decisions taken in the Budget 2019. Titled “Sustainable Growth in New Malaysia”, the Minister’s keynote address emphasized that maintaining Malaysia’s competitiveness for foreign investors will be a key enabler in achieving the Budget’s goals of reinvigorating the economy and laying the secure foundations necessary for sustainable long-term economic growth.

Addressing senior executives from the American business community, the Minister explained how the new Pakatan Harapan seeks to attract foreign investors by reforming Malaysia’s institutional framework, providing “not only certainty, clarity and consistency, but also continuity”. Reforms announced during the Budget speech, such as the intention to introduce a Fiscal Responsibility Act and a new Government Procurement Act, the adoption of open competitive tenders, and positioning Malaysia as an entrepreneurial economy which is private-sector driven, will provide the necessary assurances to attract high quality long-term investments.

Responding to questions from AMCHAM members, the Minister elaborated upon the changing ways in which Malaysia is perceived overseas: “We have transitioned from a kleptocracy to a ‘boring’ democracy… but boring is good when it comes to investors, who now know that Malaysia will act in compliance with the highest standards of public governance”.

Siobhan Das, Executive Director of AMCHAM commented after the event: “American companies have been an integral part of Malaysia’s impressive economic trajectory thus far, and we are encouraged by Y.B. Tuan Lim Guan Eng’s willingness to meet with our members within a week of the Budget announcement to provide greater visibility of how new announcements will be implemented. Corporate headquarters of multinational companies have been looking at this Budget for early ‘signals’ from the new Pakatan Harapan government about the direction in which they will lead the country. Part of our role at AMCHAM is to help our CEOs and Finance Directors based here to convey messages back to the U.S. and explain the context around decisions made by the Malaysian government.”