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IMF’s Christine Lagarde lists ingredients for Malaysia’s economic prosperity

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia needs to increase its productivity if it is to achieve its goal to become a high-income nation in the next decade, said International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Christine Lagarde.  She said despite the economic success over the past 20 years, Malaysia’s productivity did not grow as much as the country had hoped.

She outlined three key ingredients that Malaysia should pay attention to in order to improve productivity, namely Improving Governance and Tackling Corruption;  Investing in High-Quality Education, and Boosting Labour Force Participation of Women. Lauding the efforts that had been taken by the Malaysian government in combating corruption to date, Lagarde said when corruption became institutionalised, it poisoned the ability of a nation to attract investors and create jobs.

On the second ingredient. she said while the resources invested in education have dramatically improved over the past twenty years in the country, the results had not yet been fully realised.

The last ingredient would be empowering women and currently, Malaysian women tend to have less access to the labour market and fewer career opportunities compared with their peers in neighbouring countries, she said adding that Malaysia women earned about one-third less than men on average and the data suggested this gap was largely due to discrimination in the workplace.

She pointed out that the new government had paved the right path to empower women by appointed five female ministers, four female deputy ministers, and the first female deputy prime minister in the country’s history.

Lagarde said a recent survey showed that 80 per cent of women were interested in flexible work arrangements, but only 20 per cent had ever used them.

The IMF, she said believed that taken together, these efforts could raise female labour force participation rates to over 56 per cent by 2020.

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