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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.


Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Also available in: English
干旱季节印尼东爪哇省Madiun的Dawuhan大坝干裂的河床上搁浅的木船。  2015年10月28日 © ANTARA FOTO/路透社/Corbis




The gas and mining industries take on gender-based violence in Papua New Guinea

Katherine C. Heller's picture
Photo: Tom Perry/World Bank

For many, the connection seems strange at first. What do gas and mining have to do with women’s economic and social empowerment, let alone gender-based violence? The reality is that in many extractive industries areas money from extractives flow predominantly to men. This can lead to adverse results: men have more say over how benefits are used; men have more access to related jobs, and the associated increase in available cash allows them to take second wives (which can in many cases cause violence in the home between wives); some men leave their families for jobs in the industry, while some use cash for alcohol or prostitution. 

These changes and stresses – also present when the benefits from mining don’t materialize as expected - can increase the risk of family and sexual violence, especially in fragile countries like Papua New Guinea (PNG).   


Bert Hofman's picture
Also available in: English

China’s One Belt One Road Initiative: What we know thus far

Bert Hofman's picture
Also available in: 中文
President Xi Jinping launched China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative in 2013 with the stated aim to connect major Eurasian economies through infrastructure, trade and investment. The initiative was later specified to contain two international trade connections: The land-based "Silk Road Economic Belt" and oceangoing "Maritime Silk Road." 
The “Belt” is a network of overland road and rail routes, oil and natural gas pipelines, and other infrastructure projects that will stretch from Xi’an in central China through Central Asia and ultimately reach as far as Moscow, Rotterdam, and Venice. Rather than one route, belt corridors are set to run along the major Eurasian Land Bridges, through China-Mongolia-Russia, China-Central and West Asia, China-Indochina Peninsula, China-Pakistan, Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar.
The “Road” is its maritime equivalent: a network of planned ports and other coastal infrastructure projects that dot the map from South and Southeast Asia to East Africa and the northern Mediterranean Sea.

How to increase HIV testing and treatment in Bangkok for high-risk groups

Sutayut Osornprasop's picture
Also available in: ภาษาไทย
A caretaker at an HIV testing facility in Bangkok, Thailand.
A caretaker at an HIV testing facility in Bangkok, Thailand.

In Asia, Thailand remains one of the countries hardest hit by the HIV epidemic. Currently, 440,000 people are living with HIV and approximately 1,250 people die each year from HIV-related causes.

Although the country is often praised for its highly successful efforts to curb the spread of HIV among sex workers and their clients, particularly through the world-renowned 100% Condom Use Program, its response to HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) has been limited.

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.

Open insights is the next step to Open Data

Kenneth Abante's picture
One must think of government data like a matchstick; it must be taken out of its box and lit. The first step to generating public trust in a government institution is to show it has nothing to hide. The disclosure of data, or Open Data, is a public-private partnership for solving social issues transparently.
However, more than establishing moral authority, Open Data  also gives public institutions deeper insight and understanding into their own operations. Moving a step further, voluntarily disclosing not just data in comma separated values or excel spreadsheets, but insights -- even weaknesses -- to the public, can accelerate change across institutions and society. I say this with a caveat: disclosure should be made with a nuanced message, such as the acknowledgment of data and its limitations, the humility to accept limitations as an agency with scarce time and resources, and the courage to come up with clear steps for implementation. In the Philippines, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima echoes this, noting that “We must be the first to admit our weaknesses.” Open Insights is the next logical step to Open Data.

Các đô thị hiệu quả đóng vai trò then chốt giúp Việt Nam chuyển đổi sang nền kinh tế thu nhập cao

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture
Also available in: English

Quá trình đô thị hóa nhanh chóng là một điểm nhấn quan trọng trong quá trình phát triển của Việt Nam trong những thập kỷ qua. Năm 1986 dân số đô thị của Việt Nam chỉ là dưới13 triệu người; hiện nay con số đó đã là 30 triệu. Các thành phố đã trở thành trụ cột phát triển mạnh mẽ, tăng trưởng kinh tế của khu vực đô thị cao gấp hai lần mức bình quân của cả nước, đóng góp trên một nửa tổng sản phẩm quốc nội (GDP).
Các khu vực đô thị ngày càng đóng vai trò quan trọng trong tăng trưởng, và điều đó không có gì đáng ngạc nhiên. Một thực tế được thừa nhận trên phạm vi toàn cầu là nếu quản lý tốt, quá trình đô thị hoá sẽ góp phần làm tăng năng suất lao động và tăng trưởng kinh tế nhờ hiệu ứng tập trung, chẳng hạn như thị trường lao động sẽ có quy mô lớn hơn và hoạt động hiệu quả hơn, chi phí giao dịch thấp hơn và tri thức được lan tỏa dễ dàng hơn. Tuy nhiên, khi quan sát cụ thể hơn, có thể thấy đô thị hóa ở Việt Nam hiện nay cần những thay đổi lớn về tư duy để đảm bảo rằng quá trình này sẽ đóng góp toàn diện vào mục tiêu trở thành nước thu nhập cao.
Việt Nam cần sắp xếp lại quá trình đô thị hóa để xây dựng những thành phố hiệu quả hơn – những thành phố có mật độ dân số vừa đủ, kết nối tốt trong nội bộ và trong vùng, cũng như được quản lý tốt. Bên cạnh đó, để phù hợp với ưu tiên mạnh mẽ của Việt Nam trong đảm bảo công bằng xã hội, các thành phố cũng cần đảm bảo rằng mọi người dân đều được hưởng lợi từ quá trình phát triển, không một nhóm người hoặc khu vực nào bị bỏ lại phía sau.