Forum Putrajaya Should Divest From Glcs Support Local Firms




Academics and a lawmaker have urged Putrajaya to divest from government-linked companies (GLCs) and public-listed companies (PLCs) to enable a more level playing field for private business
At a public forum on Budget 2020 today, think tank Ideas’ research director Laurence Todd opined that the government’s involvement in the economy had ignited concerns around competition and the liquidity of capital markets
He, thus, proposed that Putrajaya shed all of its majority stakes in the 70 PLCs it invested in except for cases of “clear and demonstrable” public interest
This divestment ought to be accompanied by a comprehensive review of the investment portfolios of all GLCs and government-linked investment companies (GLICs)

Todd said the government should also embark on a 10-year plan to gradually reduce its footprint in the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) from the present 40 percent to 10 percent
Instead of GLCs and PLCs, he suggested that Putrajaya move its investments abroad
“Money should be invested in a way (that is) focused on commercial returns, highly diversified and outside of the Malaysian economy to reduce the risk of influencing commercial development of Malaysia,” he said
Encourage local firms, SMEsPanellist and Setiawangsa MP Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad concurred with Todd, saying that federal and state governments ought to focus on supplying education and health needs rather than be involved in non-strategic businesses
The PKR lawmaker also suggested that the executive shift its attention to helping regulate industries and empowering small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
“There are a lot of corporate welfare (programmes) for the top companies, especially GLCs and the big players, but SMEs are being ignored
“To really propel domestic private investment, SMEs must be empowered,” he said
Similarly, Khazanah Research Institute senior advisor Jomo Kwame Sundaram called for more support for successful domestic private businesses and industries
These included local technology, pewter, rubber and engineering firms
“These are largely internationally competitive. They get very little attention from the government and very little support while we pamper a lot of the industries which don’t deserve that support
“We have a very uneven playing field even within the industrial sector, and we need to begin to address this,” Jomo said, adding that Pakatan Harapan could start with Budget 2020
The budget is slated to be tabled in the upcoming Dewan Rakyat sitting which begins on Oct 7
Today’s forum, entitled “Budget 2020: Making Shared Prosperity a Reality” was moderated by Ideas fellow Tricia Yeoh. PSM chairperson Dr D Michael Jeyakumar was the fourth panellist.  - Mkini

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