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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.

Rising food prices and East Asia: trends and options

Milan Brahmbhatt's picture

Soaring food prices have suddenly become a major concern for policy makers in East Asia.  The price of rice - which provides one third of the region's caloric intake - is a particular worry.  Rice prices have been moving higher since around 2004, although this was from very depressed levels in the early years of the decade.  Prices surpassed $300 a ton in early 2006 for the first time since the late 1990s, kept moving higher, and then took off at an accelerating pace from late 2007:  up 11 percent in the the fourth quarter, then 56 percent in the first quarter of 2008 an