Moving towards a stronger economy

Every year statistics are compiled and released, giving us an indication of the economic health of our nation. The 2018 Socioeconomic Report for Malaysia (2018 population at 32.38 million) was released recently and it states that the Malaysian economy grew by 4.7 percent compared to 5.7 percent in 2017. The report further states that the majority of this growth is attributed to the services and manufacturing sectors with a combined total of 79.1 percent.

Just a quick recap on what we learned in our economics class, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) refers to the total value of everything produced within our country. It is one of the most common indicators used to monitor a country’s economy.

The statistics for Malaysia also revealed that based on the contribution to the economy the largest contributor to our GDP is Selangor (population 6.48 million) with 23.7 percent, followed by the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur (population 1.8 million) with 16.1 percent. Sarawak (population 2.79 million) is listed as being the third-largest GDP contributor with 9.7 percent. This is out of a list of 13 states and two federal territories.

It is good to know that Sarawak is a significant contributor to the economic health of Malaysia and punches above its weight.

There is another measure also used by economist and this is the Gross Domestic Product per capita. “GDP per capita” is obtained by dividing a country’s gross domestic product by its total population and is a measurement of a country’s standard of living. Generally, it is supposed to tell you how well off a country feels to each of its citizens.

Malaysia’s GDP per capita has gone up from RM42,834.00 in 2017 to RM44.682 in 2018. The Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur comes top with an increase from 113,181.000 in 2017 to RM121,293.00 followed by Federal Territory of Labuan and Pulau Pinang. Sarawak comes in a respectable fourth place out of 15, with an increase in GDP per capita from RM 50,149.00 in 2017 to RM52,301.00 in 2018.
This looks good statistically, but I am sure many of us don’t feel that prosperous in the current uncertain economic climate.

However, based on GDP, Sarawak’s economy only grew by 2 percent in 2018 compared to 4.5 percent in 2017, a difference of 2.5 percent.

Our manufacturing sector showed a growth of 2.2 percent in 2018 compared to 3.7 percent it achieved in 2017. The mining and quarrying sectors actually showed a ‘negative growth’, that is negative 2.2 percent in 2018 compared to 3.3 percent in 2017. This is a drop of 5.7 percent due to the slowdown in our oil and gas sector. The agricultural sector also saw a ‘negative growth’ of negative 1.4 percent attributed to a decline in the logging and forestry sector.

The above indicates measures have to be taken to alleviate the above issues. Of course, some of them are beyond Sarawak’s control due to the vagaries of international economics and business, such as the oil and gas sector.

Other variables which limit the ability of the Sarawak government are national policies and a glaring lack of funding and investment by Putrajaya.

There is some good news in our services sector, which saw an increase from 6.2 percent growth in 2017 to 6.3 percent growth in 2018. A small 0.1 percent increase, but hopefully a trend that will keep going up.
It would be good if Sarawak could actively disseminate detailed economic status reports regularly in an understandable format to all its people and stakeholders. This will help people, entrepreneurs and industries plan forward to develop Sarawak.

Such an approach, I am sure is possible as we have many good agencies and organisations, such as our planning units, Sarawak Development Institute etc. already in place.

The 2018 socioeconomic statistics also provide details of the revenues collected by each state.
Sarawak has the distinction of collecting the highest amount among all the states in 2017, amounting to RM6.9 billion. This is an increase of RM954.2 million compared to the RM5.9 billion collected in 2016.
With Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s strong emphasis and drive towards a developed Sarawak for all its people, I am sure all these revenues will be put to prudent and effective use.
The momentum and investment by the government towards industrialisation and development in all sectors is picking up pace now and will further attract more investors.

All the measures proposed and implemented so far will help Sarawak achieve Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 set by the United Nations. The objective of Goal 8 is to “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”.
Sarawakians must play an active role to support the government in the drive to make the state a better place for all its people.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.