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Broader representation needed for EAC

  • EAC must set up various working committees right away, and expand its representation in order to effectively serve its intended purposes.

Sin Chew Daily

After the prime minister's office announced several days ago of the formation of the Economic Action Council, economic affairs minister Azmin Ali, one of the council members, said EAC would consult the public's views after holding its first meeting, including the young people, women and business representatives, so as to help the council draw up long and mid-term problem-solving strategies.

We have no idea when the council will hold its first meeting, but the public generally feel that this should be done soonest.

From the reactions of the public, we can conclude that Malaysians want to see that EAC will really do something positive.

Almost nine months in power now, Malaysians generally feel that the new PH government has not done enough in stimulating the country's economy, making it hard for local businesses to adjust their strategies.

Against such a backdrop, the EAC must let Malaysians see that it really can do something about the country's ailing economy.

As a consequence, the council must immediately draw up transitional or provisional economic policies, at least to solve some of the problems or dilemmas faced by the business community and members of the public, so that the public depressed confidence can be restored before the actual masterplan comes into being.

The biggest concern of businesspeople and the public is to reduce the cost of doing business, enhance competitiveness and productivity.

Excessive operating cost will have far-fetching effects on the market and will send goods prices skyrocketing, thus suppressing the public's buying power and sending their living cost higher.

It is imperative that the government come up with the right measures so that Malaysians will feel that it is indeed working hard to lower the cost of living for the people.

Take the instance of this Chinese New Year, many businessmen could tell that consumers' buying power has indeed dropped. Many people are tightening the belts in anticipation of a bad year ahead.

The government must feel what the people feel, and their well-being will only improve if they have a stronger buying power.

Although the government has kept reassuring Malaysians that foreign investments have increased, and that Malaysia remains a favorite investment destination despite the Sino-American trade tension, the positivity is only confined to specific sectors and not everyone.

The government must establish a favorable and friendly business ecosystem to lift the confidence of both domestic and international investors. We must have in place practical actions and not just empty talks and promises.

SMEs have always been seen as the locomotive of the national economy. Unfortunately, many of them are constantly plagued by the pressing issues of labor shortage and difficulty in securing bank loans. These are the problems that must be addressed urgently and effectively.

The country's foreign labor policy, minimum wage scheme and many other issues have been troubling local SMEs. The human resources ministry must work with the EAC to hold dialogues with business owners in order to fully understand their predicament.

In view of this, the EAC must set up various working committees within the shortest time possible, and expand its representation to include representatives from the manufacturing industry, SMEs, travel industry as well as Malay, Chinese and Indian trade associations, for the council to effectively serve its intended purposes.

 

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