What Does it Take For The Country To Have A Strong And Healthy Economy?

We should take note that no matter how good the government’s policy on the economy is, if we as individuals are not productive, the country will continue to suffer.

Of late, we have been hearing netizens complaining about the country’s economy not being in good shape. The reason and examples given were aplenty but the most common ones were a weak Ringgit compared to Singapore and US Dollar, inflation and high national debts. These are all some of the indicators of a weak economy but not always true. You can refer to the following articles: See here, here and here

To understand economic growth we have to get back to basics. It works in all aspects and not just economy. Essentially, the four elements of economic growth are natural resources, human resources, capital and institutional factors. And of course the government economic policy on all these is important. But talking in detail about all these will be too academic. Let us look on the human factor. The factors involving you and me and what can we do on our part in achieving a strong and healthy economy.

Talking about economy, the most fundamental issue is productivity. And productivity refers to what we do everyday. Put aside government policies a while. No matter how much resources and capital we have, together with good policies, it still takes each of us to make it work. If we do nothing or do the wrong thing, we will not get the desired result.

We often talk about weak Ringgit lately as an indicator of a weak economy. But it is not always true. A weak currency can be driven by a lot of factors. Fundamentally a strong currency means there is a high demand on that currency. Which means we have to export more than we import. So what can you and I do about it? Consume less imported goods! Have we been doing it before we blame the government for having a weak Ringgit?

But in certain situations, too strong a currency means our price of our goods for export will not be attractive. For certain other reasons, some countries continuously devalue their currency from time to time to stay competitive. China and Indonesia for example, used to do that. But this is the topic I will elaborate another day. Today we talk about you and me.

Now let us move to the most fundamental thing. Productivity. No matter how good the government economic policy is, if we as individuals are not productive, the country will continue to suffer. If a government servant is working at the same pace after doing the same job for more than a year, it means we are not productive. Being unproductive incurs more cost to the government because your salary increases over time.

Why do you think some other countries can produce chicken, rice, vegetables and fruits at a cheaper cost than us? It is because they are more productive. Not only being efficient, but in methods and technology.

Female Steel Factory Worker at work moving steel poles. Being productive also means upgrading on method and technology, thereby boosting the economy. – Credit: IStock pic by Lim Weixiang – Zeitgeist Photos

Lazy Citizens = Poor Economy

What about those in the private sector? Same thing. If you are still producing at the same speed doing the same job the last one year, it means you are not productive and you incur more cost to the company and the company makes less profit and in turn government will earn less tax. Worse still if you spend a couple of hours a day on social media during working hours complaining! Conclusion is, if the citizens are lazy, it’s bad for the economy.

Productivity is not always about output. It also involves each individual’s daily habits. In fact everything that we do everyday have a direct and indirect impact on the health of our country’s economy.

Let’s take our eating habit and lifestyle for example. Are we eating well and exercising adequately? Are we taking care of our health? Are you suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure as early as at 40? If yes, these contribute to the economy of the country.

If you are sick and goes to government hospital once a month for your medication, imagine how many billions government have to spend on a citizen like you? But if you and millions more with unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle doesn’t cost the government those billions every month, imagine how much resources can be put into good and productive use? Do you know how much the government has to spend if you were admitted for dengue for example? More than RM10,000!

Another example about lifestyle is our driving habit. Do you have any idea how much the government spend on each accident?

Finally for today, ask ourselves, are we economical with the resources we use everyday? Are we wasting petrol unnecessarily of which the government provides subsidy?

That’s all for today. I will touch on national debts and inflation next week. Have a nice productive week ahead. – New Malaysia Herald

About the writer: Zam Yahaya was a Banking and Capital Market professional by training and a graduate in Accounting, Business & Islamic Finance and is a columnist with NMH. The points expressed in this article are that of the writer’s and do not necessarily represent the stand of NMH.

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