IT has been almost 50 years since the New Economic Policy was implemented to correct the economic imbalance between Malaysia’s ethnic communities. Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched the Bumiputera Economic Transformation Roadmap 2.0 (BETR 2.0), the follow-up to BETR 1.0 which was launched in 2011, with the express purpose of building upon past achievements and to further accelerate the Bumiputeras’ wealth-creation capacity.
BETR 1.0’s market-friendly, need and merit-based, transparent, pro-growth sustainability principles had helped the Bumiputera community contribute more than RM100 billion to the economy over the past five years under its flagship programmes — Dana Mudahcara, Skim Usahawan Permulaan Bumiputera and Program Syarikat Bumiputera Berprestasi Tinggi. Indeed, BETR 1.0 had put the Bumiputera community in a better position than before. Hence, besides accelerating wealth creation, the other agenda of BETR 2.0 is closing the wealth gap. This will mean strengthening the economic participation of the Bumiputera community and a better balanced distribution of employment in high value-added fields. It is a step to empower the Bumiputera agenda in line with the government’s aspiration to become a RM2 trillion economy within seven to eight years. BETR 2.0 also intends to develop more Bumiputera entrepreneurs, which means creating an enabling environment. A programme highlighted by the prime minister is the “Carve Out & Compete” initiative that will open opportunities for Bumiputera vendors in big projects. This initiative will allocate at least 40 to 50 per cent of contract values, vendors and business opportunities in big projects to Bumiputera companies. BETR 2.0 was arrived at through a bottom-up approach. The BETR 2.0 Indication Lab convened 500 participants from 25 agencies to enable more stakeholders’ initiatives to be added while simultaneously ensuring that all agencies involved were well briefed. BETR 2.0 also expands the Bumiputera empowerment agenda. An inclusive programme embracing all Bumiputera, BETR 2.0 is not dependent on straightforward government funding, rather, it leverages off the funds allocated. As such, in allowing for a multiplier effect, funds allocated will have a longer reach.
Theoretically, the foundations put in place should indeed empower the Bumiputera community economically. Closing the wealth gap is a work in progress and BETR 2.0 might just be the one to do the trick. BETR 1.0 was the beginning; it had made great strides in increasing Bumiputera success — it created job opportunities, funds and investments, and innovative programmes. With all this affirmative action already implemented, including parcelling out wealth to those identified as deserving, and now with BETR 2.0, the job to further the agenda is now in the hands of the Bumiputera, the beneficiaries who must ensure that they are dynamic, successful, all encompassing and aligned with the main pillars of the National Transformation Policy.