Friday, July 01, 2011

FDI: Actual vs Approved

MITI must start reporting "actual investment" figures instead of just "approved investment" to disclose the true investment picture for Malaysia due to the wide disparity between the relevant numbers

After several attempts, I have finally received a response from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI) with regards to the actual foreign direct investment (FDI) figures corresponding to the approved FDI into Malaysia.

The figures shed completely new light on the investment picture in Malaysia which is completely contrary to the rosy picture which as been presented by the Government over the past few months. The Minister of International Trade and Industry has been gloating about the FDI recovery and achievements in 2010 and 2011, with RM29 billion and RM11 billion to date respectively.

However, despite the relatively credible numbers reported for approved investments, the actual investment numbers are almost shocking to see.

For 2010, where the approved FDI was RM29.1 billion, to date only RM9.4 billion or 32.3% were actually invested.

If the Government were to argue that the FDI approved in 2010 is still in progress as we are still only in June 2011, the figures are not much better for 2009. In that year, RM22.9 billion has been approved, but only RM7.9 billion or 34.4% has been invested.

Even for 2008, our record year for approved FDI of RM46.1 billion, only RM29 billion has been invested with a whopping RM17.1 billion mysteriously missing-in-action.

And if one were to review the numbers over the past 15 years, only RM179.8 billion out of RM298.9 billion of approved investments have been realised. A shocking RM119.1 billion of declared FDI had disappeared without a trace.

It is hence unsurprising to see that the UNCTAD World Investment Report often presents a less than rosy picture than that presented by he Government because the former looks at "actual investments" while the latter only reports "approved investments".

We call upon the MITI Minister, Dato' Mustapa Mohamed to explain the wide disparity between the two sets of numbers and why many of the approved and promised investments never materialise. In addition, to present a more objective view of the Malaysian FDI performance, the Ministry must publish and announce both approved and actual investment figures so that investors, policy makers and the Malaysian public can measure the performance of the Malaysian economy more accurately. The Government should not just present only the positive statistics while hiding all the less than rosy stuff from the prying eyes of the public for that will only lead to self-praise and complacency, ensruing longer term decline in our economic performance.

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