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Nepal – Labour intensive industries key to country’s future

24 March 2014

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad advised Nepal to be focused on agricultural reform and establishing labour intensive industries to attain prosperity, citing the example of Malaysia’s economic journey in the past half century, reports The Himalayan Times.

“Early on, the founding fathers immediately after the Second World War decided that we should share the wealth of the country so that all people would have a reasonable level of income,” Dr Mohamad said, while delivering his keynote speech during the inaugural session of Nepal Business Conclave 2014 here today. 

“Back then, in order to reduce the gap between the rich and poor, the government redistributed land to the landless. Since land is in limited quantity, agriculture was not enough so we decided to become industrialised for jobs creation,” he added. 

However, at the time they did not have any knowledge and skills for that so Malaysia invited foreigners to establish labour intensive industries in the country. At that time, the Malaysian government was not looking for revenue but large scale jobs creation for its population.

“Eventually, Malaysia has become an industrialised country that is seeing so many jobs that we are employing foreign workers, including half a million Nepalis,” he said.

Dr Mohamad suggested that Nepal should follow in similar footsteps as creating employment for its citizens will be a pivotal step for a country to climb the economic ladder: “Moreover, if Nepal wants to attract foreign investment, then businesses should be given what they want, a favourable environment, tax incentives, and stable policies,” he said.

Dr Mohamad who ran Malaysia from 1981 to 2003, achieved +10% growth for nine consecutive years, leading to a 20-fold rise in the living standards of the Malaysian populace.

He also attributes the need of recognising the importance of sharing in multiracial and multicultural countries like Malaysia and Nepal: “The Malaysian government had decided that we needed stability to develop our country, and to achieve that we decided to share economic wealth and governance between different races in a fair manner.”

He pointed to the coalition formed between political parties before the election as being responsible for the lack of political upheavals in his country. Likewise, he revealed that another secret of the Malaysian economy doing well was the proper execution of plans made by the government. 

“We have plans spanning from three years, five years to 30 years as well. Our plans are actually carried out. There are enough funds, political will and administrative capacity to implement the plans,” he said.

The government is now focused on upgrading its human resources and the industrial capacity so that Malaysia can become a developed country by 2020.

Dr Mohamad continued: “After tackling the joblessness of our people we realised the importance of more responsible and technology intensive manpower for upgrading the country. So we focused on education of our people so we are providing scholarships for secondary and tertiary education; as more Malaysians become engineers, lawyers and architects, our industries will also be ready to absorb those skilled human resources.”

“Eventually, this all boils down to increased revenue for the government so the Malaysian state can invest in necessary amenities such as drinking water, electricity, roads, etc. and improve the overall living standard,” he added.

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