KUALA LUMPUR (April 2): A greater public-private partnership is crucial to drive the country’s economy and it will become even more important in the years ahead.

In making the call, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said although plans and policies had been put in place to help the country grow wealthier, the Government could not do it alone.

“We can set the direction, we can chart the course and plan the path, but it is the private sector companies from the smallest small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to the largest multinational corporations that have to be the drivers.

“We can build the road, but you have to drive the economy forward,” he said at the International Business Review ASEAN Awards 2020 here today.

The event was organised by IBR Asia Group to recognise the efforts and contributions of organisations from both the private and public sectors to the country.

Mustapa said in the next five years, the Government via the 12th Malaysia Plan would put in place a number of reforms to make the Malaysian economy more resilient and sustainable.

Digitalisation, labour market reforms, poverty eradication, public sector optimisation, and nurturing talent, among others, would ensure that Malaysian productivity and competitiveness are at the cutting edge relative to the rest of the world, he said.

“Beyond the shores of Malaysia, we must also be cognisant that we are part of a wider community — ASEAN. As one of the founding members of ASEAN, Malaysia has to step forward and show the way,” he pointed out.

The Minister said Malaysia must collaborate, cooperate, reduce trade barriers, and work together with its regional neighbours to improve the socioeconomic status of its peoples.

The ASEAN region is set to become the next economic powerhouse, with a combined Gross Domestic Product of US$3.1 trillion in 2020, a population of 717 million and a labour force of 335 million.

At the event, Top Glove Corporation founder and executive chairman Tan Sri Lim Wee Chai was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his vision and industry leadership to enhance the country’s reputation.

The award was presented by Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari.

In addition, 20 companies from various industries received the Corporate Excellence Award at the IBR ASEAN Awards 2020.

Among them were KDEB Waste Management Sdn Bhd, Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd, World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur, Sun Life Malaysia, Celcom Axiata Bhd, and BIMB Holdings Bhd.