04 Jul 2019 05:06:34 PM

Christine Lagarde’s Ingredients for Malaysia’s Economic Prosperity: A special engagement session.

Mdm Christine Lagarde of the International Monetary Fund speaks about the three ingredients she believes will boost Malaysia’s economic prosperity. 


Mdm Lagarde with TalentCorp's DCEO, Pn Mahuran Saro Sariki.
On 24 June, TalentCorp, together with University of Malaya and Malaysian Economic Association, hosted a very “Special Engagement Session” with Mdm Christine Lagarde, Managing Director and Chairman of the International Monetary Fund. 

The event, which took place at the Auditorium, Research Management & Innovation Complex (RMIC) of University Malaya started at 9 in the morning and ended around 11am. TalentCorp co-hosted the special engagement session as part of our semester break programme for students and graduates together with University Malaya and the Malaysian Economic Association. 
Malaysia’s record of success

In her speech  at the event, Lagarde praised Malaysia for its record of success.
For one, she said that Malaysia has become more inclusive and resilient because it had pursued economic diversification, strengthened the financial sector and focused on sustainable growth. As a result, it was able to withstand the impact of the 2008 global financial crisis. It has also resulted in Malaysia turning into a global manufacturing and innovation hub.

Lagarde also praised Malaysia’s emphasis on education – its expenditure on education now matches many OECD countries, she said.
“In 2003, universal access to primary education was established. In recent years total government spending on education approached 5 per cent of GDP – significantly higher than most other countries in the region,” she said.
However, in order for Malaysia to achieve long-term success, especially in regards to becoming a high-income nation in the next decade, much needs to be done. 
“Raising productivity is essential if Malaysia is to reach its goal of high-income status in the next decade. 

Productivity growth drives average income growth and in turn, raises living standards, she said.

Lagarde highlighted three points to boost the nation’s productivity: 

Mdm Lagarde talks about the three ingredients that will boost Malaysia's economy.
1. Improve governance and eradicate corruption
“When corruption becomes institutionalised, it poisons the ability of a nation to attract investors and create jobs. Young people understand this better than most,” said Lagarde.
Therefore, she is heartened by the steps the Government has taken to combat corruption, such as establishing the National Centre for Governance Integrity and Anti-Corruption in 2018 and launching an anti-corruption plan in January this year.

“We believe these measures can help attract businesses to invest across Malaysia and in turn generate new jobs and opportunities for all citizens. But it is only one ingredient in the mix,” she said.

2. Invest in high quality education
Lagarde noted that Malaysia faces a few challenges in the education front.
“Malaysia still ranks below the OECD average in math, reading, and science. Regional and socio-economic disparities persist across the country and for certain groups, especially lower-skilled adults, automation is threatening jobs,” she said.
However, Malaysia has a “clear path forward” to improve in this area.
Some of the recommendations given by Lagarde include increasing the funding for learning and skills retraining programmes and to be creative on training people, such as to offer more online or and part-time courses.

“Investments in high-quality education can reduce skill mismatches, raise wages, and help all Malaysians harness the potential of new technologies,” she said.
3. Boost Labour Force Participation of Women
Empowering women can boost growth and help make it more inclusive.
However, Malaysian women face several challenges: They tend to have less access to the labour market and fewer career opportunities compared to other neighbouring countries. Also, women in Malaysia about one-third less than men on average, and this is due to discrimination in the workplace, said Lagarde.

However, Lagarde is heartened that Malaysia is taking positive steps in the right direction, such as:
More women are becoming leaders and appointed to cabinet positions 
New laws have been implemented to protect women’s jobs while they are on maternity leave
Gender discrimination is being removed at the workplace
Measures by the Government in the recent budget to increase paid family leave
The mandate to have at least 30% female representation on a government-linked company’s board
“The IMF believes that taken together, these efforts can raise female labour force participation rates to over 56 per cent by 2020. In turn, this could mean a boost to GDP growth and overall productivity in the economy,” she said.
Attendees take the opportunity for a group photo with Mdm Lagarde.
Time to act
TalentCorp aligns closely with Lagarde’s recommendations. 
As Malaysia grapples with the reality of becoming an ageing nation and also the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on businesses, it’s important to ensure that Malaysia takes the right step forward to face the future.

TalentCorp is keen to help the nation achieve this.

 We have initiatives for talent mobility (Returning Expert Programme, Scholarship Talent Attraction and Retention, MyASEAN Internship, MyAPEC YouthConnect) and talent diversity (Residence Pass-Talent, Career Comeback). We are also deeply committed to championing Malaysia's Diversity & Inclusion agenda aim to support and drive the government's national talent agenda.

We believe that with every Malaysian – individuals or organisations – contributing their strengths and talents, Malaysia can move confidently forward in the future and achieve economic success.

This is article is based of IMF's Christine Lagarde lists ingredients for Malaysia's economic prosperity speech, New Straits Times, 24 June 2019.