The keynote address by Professor Emeritus Dr Zakariah Abdul Razak, Malaysian Institute of Economic Research at the 3rd IDR Annual Research Seminar in Casuarina@Meru was on “Can Perak State Achieve High Income Economy by 2020”.

Dr Zakariah explained that the criteria to be accepted as High Income Economy is that per capita income must be USD15,000 (RM60,000). In 2014, average monthly household income for Malaysia was RM6141 and that for Perak was RM4268, that is 30% below national average. In fact only four states exceeded the national average and were responsible for the high figure. Perak is number two from the bottom, just above Kelantan. As for poverty rate, the national average is 0.6% and Perak is 0.7% which is also above the national average.

To achieve per capita of USD15,000 by 2020, Perak must have a growth rate of 13.3% which is not practical. At the current rate of growth Perak can achieve high income status by 2029. However, it must be noted that the Ringgit has depreciated against the US Dollar and in local currency the income must be higher. Not a satisfactory report on Perak.

The second keynote address was by Professor Dr Rajah Rahsiah, University Malaya on Economic Growth and Environment: How East Asia is Faring? East Asian economies are exporters and conditioned by external markets. There is a rise in competition on dirty industries and emphasis on green technology and rising demand for clean products in the developed world. South Korea and Taiwan seem to be in the lead.

The seminar focused on four areas – the economy; women, youth and entrepreneurship; culture, heritage and environment and innovation and human capital. A total of 24 papers were submitted. Some constructive suggestions were made during question time.

The highlight of the event was the launching of a Data Bank by Datuk Mohammad Zahir Abdul Khalid, Chairman, Perak Industries, Investment and Corridor Development. Dr Mazalan Kamis, CEO, Institut Darul Ridzuan said that this is an interactive database and users can compare the position of Perak against other states online. There was a demonstration on comparison of Perak and Selangor. In the sixties they were on par, but eventually Selangor shot up. Dr Mazalan said that the system was still on trial and would be made available to the public soon.  

A. Jeyaraj