(Right) Phase 1 of the MRT project is operational. Felda Gugusan Lepar Hilir 2 settlers are all smiles as they receive their 1Malaysia People’s Aid vouchers in Kuantan in 2012. FILE PIC.

KUALA LUMPUR: THE government has achieved key successes through the National Transformation Programme (NTP) despite having to make tough decisions to spur the nation’s growth, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Since NTP’s inception in 2010, Najib said, the government had undertaken several “unpopular” but necessary initiatives to steer the country back on to the right economic track.

“As the result of those tough choices, we have built the resilience to register a 4.2 per cent growth in our gross domestic product in 2016 despite the turbulent global economy,” said Najib in an interview made available to the New Sunday Times.

Najib cited the removal of fuel subsidies, the reduction of the government’s reliance on oil revenue and the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax as some of the crucial initiatives under NTP.

Najib said the country would have been left in a “highly precarious” fiscal position without the NTP, and that high-income nations like Switzerland, Sweden and New Zealand followed an economic model similar to Malaysia’s.

Najib, who is also finance minister, said NTP was instrumental in creating 1.8 million jobs and boosting the gross national income by almost 50 per cent.

“We have almost eradicated poverty, reducing it to just 0.6 per cent.”

He said the introduction of 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) and the planned development of 1.1 million affordable homes would help low- and middle-income families cope with the rising cost of living.

Najib said, thanks to NTP, the country was on track to develop a world-class public transport system following the completion of the Mass Rapid Transit and other projects.

“The MRT will carry close to a million people over 100km daily — guaranteeing the people fast, reliable and environmentally-friendly public transport. And if I could stress this again, the project is being delivered on time and on budget.”

He said the upcoming East Coast Rail Line and Pan-Borneo Highway infrastructure projects would be a “game-changer” for the nation.

Asked whether the government’s achievements would lead Malaysia to become a high-income nation by 2020, Najib expressed confidence that NTP would help the country to achieve this goal.

“I believe so. Even neutral observers who have seen what we have done, what we continue to do have commended us on our commitment to deliver.

“This is why all the major rating agencies such as Fitch, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s — and they are not easy to please, I can tell you! — have reaffirmed Malaysia’s credit rating at ‘A’.”

Najib said NTP would generate benefits for all strata of society to enable all Malaysians to contribute to and share in the wealth of the country.

“The road to national transformation does not end here — we must keep moving and my government will keep innovating and not rest in our efforts towards this.”

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