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Malaysia

How to scale up financial inclusion in ASEAN countries

José de Luna-Martínez's picture
MYR busy market

Globally, around 2 billion people do not use formal financial services. In Southeast Asia, there are 264 million adults who are still “unbanked”; many of them save their money under the mattress and borrow from so-called “loan sharks”, paying exorbitant interest rates on a daily or weekly basis. Recognizing the importance of financial inclusion for economic development, the leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have made this one of their top priorities for the next five years.
 
Last week, the World Bank Group presented the latest data on financial inclusion in ASEAN to senior representatives of the ministries of finance and central banks of all 10 ASEAN member countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). The session, held in Kuala Lumpur, is one of the joint activities the new World Bank Research and Knowledge Hub and Malaysia is undertaking to support financial inclusion around the world.
 

Malaysia’s long race to competitiveness

Laura Altinger's picture
Have you ever felt like you are in a race and each time you pass another competitor, more keep showing up ahead on the race track in an endless marathon? Well, countries striving to be competitive face a similar predicament. No matter how hard they try to improve their competitiveness, cut the red tape and reduce burdensome regulations, other countries are doing the same, but even quicker.

Malaysia is already a very competitive country. Today it ranks 18 out of 189 economies in the World Bank Group’s Doing Business Index. Yet, its ambition is to become more competitive. And it wants to overtake some countries on the way up. Malaysia has long recognized that a concerted cross-ministerial and public-private collaboration is needed to do just that.

Malaysia’s Special Task Force to Facilitate Business (PEMUDAH), was established in 2007 to improve the ease of doing business in Malaysia. Testament to its success was Malaysia’s surge to 6th position in the 2014 Doing Business, up from 12th place in 2013 and 18th in 2012, placing it in the same league as Singapore, Hong Kong, and the United States. But since then, Malaysia has been challenged to keep up with the rapid pace of business reforms across the globe.
 

How can rapidly aging East Asia sustain its economic dynamism?

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Also available in: 中文
Panos Agency


In the last three decades, East Asia has reaped the demographic dividend. An abundant and growing labor force powered almost one-third of the region’s per capita income growth from the 1960s to the 1990s, making it the world’s growth engine.
 
Now, East Asia is facing the challenges posed by another demographic trend: rapid aging. A new World Bank report finds that East Asia and Pacific is aging faster – and on a larger scale – than any other region in history.
 
More than 211 million people ages 65 and over live in East Asia and Pacific, accounting for 36 percent of the global population in that age group. By 2040, East Asia’s older population will more than double, to 479 million, and the working-age population will shrink by 10 percent to 15 percent in countries such as Korea, China, and Thailand.
 
Across the region, as the working-age population declines and the pace of aging accelerates, policy makers are concerned with the potential impact of aging on economic growth and rising demand for public spending on health, pension and long-term care systems.
 
As the region ages rapidly, how do governments, employers and households ensure that hard-working people live healthy and productive lives in old age? How do societies in East Asia and Pacific promote productive aging and become more inclusive?
 

Taxes and budget 2016: On the road to a developed country

Faris Hadad-Zervos's picture
This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly

MALAYSIA has travelled far on the road to economic growth and shared prosperity. Using its natural resources, the country not only eliminated absolute poverty from 49% in 1970 to less than 1% in 2014, but also lifted the incomes of households at the bottom 40% of the income bracket. The Gini Coefficient — a measure of income inequality in an economy — dropped from 55.7 to 42.1 over the same period, implying that gaps in incomes were narrowing. This road is now leading towards a developed country, with a vibrant and growing middle class where aspirational households have access to relevant education and training, higher income opportunities, more savings for retirement and a safety net to protect the vulnerable from shocks.

Underlying this journey to developed country status is a series of structural reforms that have formed the bulk of the national development plans, most recently the 11th Malaysia Plan. The quest moving forward is therefore to sustain and finance this process. The 11th Malaysia Plan is budgeted to cost RM246 million between now and 2020. Taxation choices will matter a great deal for Malaysia’s prospects in this journey, more so in an environment of low or volatile oil and commodity prices and a global and regional economic slowdown.

We must prepare now for another major El Niño

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Also available in: 中文
El Niño is back and may be stronger than ever.
 
A wooden boat is seen stranded on the dry cracked riverbed of the Dawuhan Dam during drought season in Madiun, Indonesia's East Java province.  October 28, 2015 © ANTARA FOTO/Reuters/Corbis



The latest cyclical warming of Pacific Ocean waters, first observed centuries ago and formally tracked since 1950, began earlier this year and already has been felt across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Weather experts predict this El Niño will continue into the spring of 2016 and could wreak havoc, because climate change is likely to exacerbate the intensity of storms and flooding in some places and of severe drought and water shortages in others.

El Niño’s impacts are global, with heavy rain and severe flooding expected in South America and scorching weather and drought conditions likely in the Horn of Africa region.

East Asia’s challenge: ensuring that growth helps poor

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Also available in: 中文 | 한국어

Unprecedented economic growth in the last three decades propelled East Asia into an economic powerhouse responsible for a quarter of the world’s economy.

Hundreds of millions of people across the region, including in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, lifted themselves out of extreme poverty and enjoyed greater prosperity, largely because of more labor-intensive and inclusive growth.

The success didn’t come without challenges. As of last year, 100 million people in East Asia still live on $1.25 a day. About 260 million still live on $2 a day or less, and they could fall back into poverty if the global economy takes a turn for the worse or if they face health, food and other shocks at home. Their uncertain future shows the increasing inequality of East Asia’s galloping growth.

ถึงเวลาที่ต้องสร้างความแข็งแกร่งให้กับการลดความเสี่ยงจากภัยพิบัติในเอเชียตะวันออกและแปซิฟิก

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
ใน PDF: Korean | Khmer

ทุกครั้งที่ผมทราบข่าวว่ามีภัยพิบัติทางธรรมชาติเกิดขึ้น ผู้คนบาดเจ็บเสียชีวิต บ้านเรือนพังเสียหาย ชีวิตความเป็นอยู่ของผู้คนที่ประสบภัยต้องเปลี่ยนแปลงไป ผมรู้ว่าเราต้องทำอะไรสักอย่างเพื่อช่วยลดผลกระทบอันน่าสลดใจนี้ แทนที่จะรอให้มันเกิดขึ้นอีก

เรามีโอกาสจะผลักดันเรื่องนี้ในการประชุมนานาชาติเรื่องการลดความเสี่ยงจากภัยพิบัติที่จัดขึ้นปีนี้ ณ เมืองเซนได ประเทศญี่ปุ่น เพื่อสรุปแนวทางการดำเนินงานกรอบการดำเนินงานเฮียวโกะ ระยะที่ 2 (Hyogo Framework for Action-HFA2) ซึ่งเป็นแนวทางในการบริหารจัดการความเสี่ยงจากภัยพิบัติแก่ผู้กำหนดนโยบายและผู้มีส่วนเกี่ยวข้องในระดับนานาชาติ การประชุมครั้งนี้ถือเป็นโอกาสที่จะตั้งเป้าหมายในการลดความเสี่ยงจากภัยพิบัติและต่อสู้กับความยากจนอีกด้วย

ภัยพิบัติจากธรรมชาติมีมูลค่าความเสียหายมหาศาล ในรอบ 30 ปีที่ผ่านมา มีผู้เสียชีวิตไปแล้ว 2 ล้าน 5 แสนคน และสร้างความสูญเสียเป็นมูลค่า 4 ล้านล้านเหรียญสหรัฐฯ นอกจากนี้ยังส่งผลกระทบให้การพัฒนาชะงักลง

ในภูมิภาคเอเชีย การพัฒนาเขตเมืองอย่างรวดเร็วผนวกกับการวางผังเมืองยังไม่มีคุณภาพได้เพิ่มความเสี่ยงให้เมืองต่าง ๆ เป็นอย่างมาก โดยเฉพาะเมืองที่ตั้งอยู่แถบชายฝั่งและลุ่มแม่น้ำที่มีประชากรอาศัยอยู่หนาแน่น พายุไต้ฝุ่นไห่เยี่ยนได้คร่าชีวิตผู้คนกว่า 7,350 คนในฟิลิปปินส์ เมื่อปี 2556 แล้วยังส่งผลโดยตรงให้ความยากจนเพิ่มขึ้นร้อยละ 1.2

Sekaranglah waktunya memperkuat pengendalian risiko bencana di Asia Timur dan Pasifik

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
In PDF: Korean | Khmer

Setiap kali saya diberitahu terjadinya kembali sebuah bencana alam – tentang korban jiwa masyarakat, rumah-rumah yang hancur, matapencaharian yang hilang – saya teringat bagaimana pentingnya kita perlu bertindak guna mengurangi dampak tragedi tersebut. Kita  tidak bisa menunggu sampai bencana kembali terjadi.

Pada World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction di Sendai, yang akan berupaya mencari penerus Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA2) -- panduan bagi para pembuat kebijakan dan pemangku kepentingan internasional dalam bidang manajemen risiko bencana – peluang itu ada di tangan kita. Konferensi ini adalah peluang untuk menjadi tonggak penting dalam hal pengendalian risiko bencana dan pengentasan kemiskinan.

Biaya akibat bencana alam sudah sangat tinggi. Dalam periode 30 tahu, sekitar 2,5 juta korban jiwa dan $4 triliun hilang akibat bencana, dan hal ini berdampak pada upaya pembangunan.

Di Asia, urbanisasi yang pesat serta perencanaan yang kurang baik telah secara signifikan mempertajam kerentanan kota, khususnya perkotaan dengan tingkat kepadatan penduduk yang tinggi dan terletak di pesisir atau tepi sungai. Lebih dari 7.350 korban jiwa jatuh akibat Badai Haiyan  di Filipina pada tahun 2013, dan bencana tersebut secara langsung mengakibatkan naiknya tingkat kemiskinan sebesar 1,2 persen.

Now is the time to strengthen disaster risk reduction in East Asia and the Pacific

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
In PDF: Korean | Khmer

Every time I learn of another natural disaster – the people killed and injured, homes destroyed, livelihoods lost – I know we must act to reduce the tragic impact instead of waiting for the next disaster strikes.

We have that chance with this year’s World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, which seeks to finalize the successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA2) that guides policymakers and international stakeholders in managing disaster risk. The conference is an opportunity to set new milestones in disaster risk reduction and fighting poverty.

The cost of natural disasters already is high – 2.5 million people and $4 trillion lost over the past 30 years with a corresponding blow to development efforts.

In Asia, rapid urbanization combined with poor planning dramatically increases the exposure of cities, particularly those along densely populated coasts and river basins. Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 7,350 people in the Philippines in 2013, directly contributed to a 1.2 percent rise in poverty.
 

How to narrow the gap between the rich and poor in Malaysia?

Frederico Gil Sander's picture

If you could make one New Year’s wish for your country, what would it be?

For many Malaysians, Prime Minister Najib Razak’s wish for “a safer, more prosperous, and more equal society” likely resonated with their hopes for 2015.

Malaysians appear to be increasingly concerned about income inequality. According to a 2014 Pew Global survey, 77% of Malaysians think that the gap between the rich and poor is a big problem. The government has acknowledged that inequality remains high, and that tackling these disparities will be Malaysia’s “biggest challenge” in becoming a high-income nation.

How can Malaysia narrow the gap between the rich and poor? Global experience suggests two possible levers to achieve a more equitable income distribution.

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