A CONDUCIVE environment in attracting foreign direct investments, especially mid-sized firms, and more skills-based programmes to meet the needs of the private sector are among the anticipated goodies in the 2014 Budget, which are expected to spur further growth in the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER).
The economic corridor's driver - the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) - has expressed confidence the upcoming Budget, to be tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Friday, will seek to create a concrete economic base for Malaysia to soar forward despite the prevailing global economic uncertainties.
"The government has been quite engaging in the drafting of the 2014 Budget," NCIA chief executive Datuk Redza Rafiq said.
"An example of this is the 15 core elements discussed at focus group meetings in the Ministry of Finance over the last few months to gather inputs for the Budget."
On innovation serving as a key driver in strengthening the country's economic footing, Redza said it would be reasonable to believe the government will be leveraging on its various innovation initiatives to create a solid platform for the nation to ride on the wave.
"We are talking about things like medical devices, biotechnology and other engineering-driven areas where Malaysia has a strong foot-hold in."
As a net food importer, he pointed out to the country's total value of RM14.2 billion in food imports last year, in contrast to food exports which amounted to RM13.4 billion.
"The 2008 world food crisis is a stark reminder of the importance in ensuring national food security.
"In addressing our ageing farming population, we need to offer several tools such as food security measures, increasing the income of farmers, and ensuring that the local communities benefit from this economic activity," said Redza.
He said that a conducive environment in attracting foreign direct investment can be created, especially in attracting medium-sized foreign firms by leveraging on the support eco-system the country already has.
"I would expect the government to rationalise its incentive structures to make it more favourable to small- and medium-sized enterprises - via sustainable demand-driven mechanisms, instead of the usual grants which are given," Redza added.
Redza's 2014 Budget expectations in developing the country's human capital is that there would be a shift in focus in providing more skills-based programmes. This, he noted, "will ensure we have the right kind of human capital to meet the needs of the private sector".