Focus on the poor, not just country’s growth, says Navaratnam

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This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 5, 2016.


KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government should prioritise providing better services to the poor and not just be fixated with the country’s growth, said Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam, chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Studies.

He said this when asked about his expectations for the upcoming Budget 2017, a budget in which he expects the government to try to maintain the macro-targets of keeping its debts under control while ensuring there would be stimulus for growth at the same time.

It would be a difficult balance for the government to handle, he told The Edge Financial Daily during a brief tea break at the European Smart Cities Exchange Forum yesterday.

“[But] the government is too concerned about the growth of the country and forgets to address its targets for distribution,” said Navaratnam, who is also Sunway Group’s corporate adviser.

He said prices of goods have been rising but people’s incomes have not risen as quickly, or as much. So if the government does not do more for the poor, these people will be caught in a bind and the government will have difficulties in defending its own policies, he said.

Organised by the EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the one-day forum saw expert speakers sharing their ideas, insights and experiences on smart city implementation.