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Malaysia plans to further open up services sector

Malaysia plans to further open up services sector

Malaysia will further liberalize its services sectors to woo foreign investors and speed up economic recovery after a recession this year, a Cabinet minister said Monday.
Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed said the government is undertaking a comprehensive study to cut the cost of doing business and make the economy more competitive.
Prime Minister Najib Razak has relaxed a host of restrictions on foreign investment in the financial services sector as part of his first major policy reforms soon after taking power early April.
"There is no looking back in opening up our economy," Mustapa told reporters.
"We are looking at all sectors. We've started this process and a review is ongoing. The services sector will be our priority as it will be the driver of our economic transformation," he said.
He declined to give details. Najib has relaxed a decades-old affirmative action program for ethnic Malays, including scrapping a requirement for 30 percent Malay ownership in several sectors such as health and transport.
Analysts however, said the moves touch only a few of the benefits given to Malays, who make up nearly 60 percent of the country's 28 million people. Strategic industries such as telecommunications, water, ports and energy remain heavily regulated.
Mustapa said his ministry has proposed new measures to make Malaysia more pro-business in the 2010 national budget to be unveiled Oct. 23.
He said economic growth is expected to pick up in the last quarter this year, thanks to the government's fiscal stimulus measures of 67 billion ringgit ($19 billion).
"Going forward, we believe it is going to be quite a steady path," he said.
The government has predicted the economy may contract 4 percent to 5 percent this year.