In his opening address at the 2014 Invest Malaysia conference this morning, Najib announced three steps to be taken to further open up Malaysia’s finance industry that he first began liberalising in 2009.
“Our liberalisation programmes are designed to prepare our industries to compete in a new, more closely connected global economy,” he said in excerpts of his speech that was made available to the press.
Among these are the removal of mandatory credit ratings beginning in 2017, the elimination of local ownership requirements for credit ratings firms, also in 2017, and the immediate nod for 100 per cent foreign ownership of unit trust management companies.
“I want to see Malaysia emerge not just with a high-income economy, but a high-quality economy. That means building a stable and inclusive financial system, encouraging innovation, and tackling corruption,” Najib said.
At the event, the PM also pointed to other reforms and measures taken under his administration to bolster Malaysia’s financial position, which include the introduction of the long-delayed Goods and Services Tax (GST), a cutback in blanket subsidies, and a gradual reduction of the chronic deficit.
He also touted Malaysia’ improved performance in the latest “Ease of Doing Business” report by the World Bank as well as the IMD’s World Competitiveness Yearbook, coming in ahead of the UK, Australia, Japan and Korea.
In 2009, Najib embarked on a liberalisation of 27 financial and services subsectors as part of his New Economic Model (NEM) of meritocracy to replace previous race-based affirmative action policies.
But the move, among others, had triggered backlash among Malay groups over fears it would dilute the preferential treatment enjoyed by the country’s dominant community.
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