Frankly Speaking: EAC a welcome initiative but…

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on February 18, 2019 - February 24, 2019.
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The Economic Action Council (EAC) was officially unveiled last week, together with the full list of its 16 members. Its main objective is to tackle economic issues facing the public.

It is a welcome initiative that will hopefully kick start the government’s long-term economic strategy, which appears to be lacking.

However, a closer look at the list of 16 personalities who make up the council hints at potential shortcomings later down the road.

First, there does not seem to be any representation from the digital economy. This is odd given its growing importance in the nation’s future.

To put this into perspective, the digital economy is projected to make up a fifth of Malaysia’s gross domestic product by 2020. The Inland Revenue Board has also moved to expand its taxation net to cover this space.

Therefore, it makes sense to ensure that any economic policy and action is done with a proper understanding of the digital economy, lest unforeseen side effects arise.

Secondly, there is a lack of representation from the younger generation.

It is vital that the EAC strikes the right balance in tapping the younger generation’s perspective, alongside the experience of the older generation, if it is to formulate an economic blueprint that lasts beyond a couple of years.

And it does not help that some of the members — while professionals within their own field — do not seem to have obvious qualifications that would add value to the task at hand. Of course, this can only be proved either way in time, but time may not be a luxury the country can afford.

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