Being decisive, trusted key to drawing FDI

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Lapses the Government should look into to lure foreign investors as well as retain existing ones.

Investors often look out for certainty and stability. A chaotic environment can disrupt investors’ plans, mess up their cash flow and result in their fingers getting burnt.

This is especially so with foreign investors who may bring millions or billions into the country. Stability and certainty also entail the Government projecting decisiveness and keeping to its words. A government that does neither will only send potential investors fleeing for countries where it’s more predictable to operate in.

This is a time when Malaysia needs as much FDI as possible to help the country get back on its feet after being battered by the Covid-19 pandemic. But there are still lapses the Government should look into to lure foreign investors as well as retain existing ones.

One aspect is the perceived dilly-dallying and feet-dragging by the government on some major infrastructure projects it had announced in the past.  When things are not moving as fast as they should or there are unnecessary delays, investors get anxious and doubts on the government’s trustworthiness creeps in.

Bernama

These projects include the ECRL, the Phase 2 of the Pan Borneo Highway and the Johor Bahru–Singapore Rapid Transit System. Despite prior commitment to expedite them, they have been hit by unnecessary delays. These reflect a deeper Malaysian struggle with fulfilling commitments that may only spook investors.

With the littoral combat ship (LCS) project, things become even more absurd. In it, we see the failure of Malaysian contractors (Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation/Boustead Naval Shipyard) to honour their commitment by getting the job done and we see multiple Cabinets (all three – PH, Perikatan Nasional and the mishmash that we have right now) kicking the can down the road by suspending the project and doing nothing else.

Instead of honouring commitments and making difficult decisions, it seems that we have opted for the option to bury our heads in the sand and hope for the best. The Navy has to put up with risky capability gaps while the rakyat is forced to pay additional expenses related to project delays.

These delays and pussy-footing send the wrong signals to foreign investors. If the Government is seen to be having two minds about rolling out projects which are of high impact to its people, investors cannot be faulted for having cold feet about putting their money on more commercially-driven enterprises. In the end, it’s the public who will suffer.

The views expressed here are strictly those of The True Net reader Thiyagu Subramaniam from Johor Baru.