KUALA LUMPUR: Timor Leste, which is eyeing the 11th place in the Asean grouping, has embarked on numerous reforms to accelerate the level of private investments into the country.
Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araujo said they range from regulatory reforms to enable the public administration respond to the demands of the business investing community.
Land reforms are also underway as the country focuses on areas of high priority namely tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and oil and gas sectors.
“In terms of inclusiveness, we are post conflict country hence our priority is to secure peace and stability.”
He was speaking at a panel discussion “Shaping the Asean agenda for inclusion and growth” which was also attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Its economic development over the past decade has been mostly driven by public investments.
Many of its efforts are paying off and there have been investments in a cement factory and beverage factory in the country so far.
De Araújo, who took office a year ago, described Timor Leste as comparatively young country where 60 per cent of its population is less than 25 years of age.
“We face a skills mismatch between our education qualifications and market needs.”
Also on the transformation path is Vietnam with its 30 year-long set of reforms as described by its deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung.
Vietnam which has maintained a high growth rate has also restructured its economy moving towards industrialisation and services as the country deepens its integration with the rest of Asean.
“We are a lower middle income country and facing competitiveness and quality of growth which can be improved by expanding on our infrastructure development and transportation – a bottleneck to our development.”
Recently- appointed Trinh said the government is also intent on improving the academic qualifications of the Vietnamese.
“It is our resolve in coming years to focus on restructuring our economy, coming up with a good economic growth model which will ensure that the educational qualifications match the needs of the business community.”
In the case of Cambodia which has been enjoying more than 7 per cent annual growth for the past two decades, its concerns do not lie within the country alone.
Cambodia Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said the Asean Economic Community is facing challenges within the grouping as each of the 10 nations vie for foreign direct investments.
“We may need to coordinate with one another. There is competition for `one piece of meat’ but we should not all drop the price as this would lead to less profit from the final production.”
It was a point which Indonesia’s vice president Jusuf Kalla also felt strongly saying there should not be competition within cooperation between Asean countries.
“Take the production of shoes and garments for example. We should not be allowed by the outside investors to push our costs lower and cheaper,” he said, adding that a minimum wage level was also important for Asean countries to adopt.
Making a product at US$15 and subsequently selling it for US$100 is unhealthy. By Rupa Damodaran, 2 June 2016
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