On 24 June 2019, Madam Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of International Monetary Fund (IMF), visited Universiti Malaya (UM) and shared her insights during a special engagement session themed “Ingredients for Good Governance and Economic Prosperity”. The exclusive event was hosted by UM together with Malaysian Economic Association (MEA) and Talent Corporation Malaysia Berhad.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), Professor Dr. Noorsaadah Abd Rahman, gave the welcoming remarks while the President of Malaysian Economic Association, Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr. Norma Mansor, moderated the session.
“IMF places strong measures in promoting good governance when providing policy advice, financial support and technical assistance to its member countries. In this process, our Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad wants Malaysia to re-conduct public affairs and manage public resources by ensuring integrity, impartiality and honesty in the discharge of its sovereign obligations,” said Professor Dr. Noorsaadah Abd Rahman.
Madam Lagarde elaborated on Malaysia’s economic achievements and key ingredient for its long term success. For Malaysia to sustain long-term growth, boosting productivity should be the utmost priority. Madam Lagarde highlighted the three key ingredients in driving productivity and they are improving governance and tackling corruption, investing in high quality education and boosting labour force participation for women.
The establishment of the National Center for Governance Integrity and Anti-Corruption in 2018 has launched a new anti-corruption plan to eliminate negative entities. The focus is set on making financial transactions more transparent and strengthening oversight capabilities. The progress made has gained IMF’s trust as they eagerly support the efforts in tackling corruption.
Malaysia still ranks below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries’ average in mathematics, science and reading. Madam Lagarde said, “Part of the solution is increased funding for lifelong learning and skills retraining programs.” She also believes that there is a clear path forward for Malaysia to continue its remarkable commitment to improving education.
On the labour force participation for women, IMF has set a goal to raise female labour force participation rate by 56% by 2020. Madam Lagarde stated that women tend to be segregated in the workforce which can be recognised by the middling number of career opportunities and the amount of earnings they receive. However, the government has been listening to the collective voices of women when they implemented new laws to protect women’s jobs such as giving maternity leave.
All in all, she believes by boosting productivity together with the key ingredients, it will drive the average income growth and raise the living standards in Malaysia, which in turn brings growth to the GDP and overall productivity in the economy.
Madam Lagarde’s insightful speech had given the audience an opportunity to further discuss and elicit deeper understanding regarding good governance and economic prosperity.
Amongst the distinguished attendees of this occasion were Mrs. Hajah Mahuran Saro Dato' Haji Sariki, Deputy CEO of Talent Corporation Malaysia, Mr. Raja Syamsul Anwar, Director of International Department, Central Bank of Malaysia, Tan Sri Datuk Clifford Herbert, Vice President of MEA and Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Lin See-Yan, former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Malaysia.