The text of his speech was read by Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar. (BERNAMA)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will ensure public policies, including urban and regional plans, continue to serve economic growth while protecting natural and agricultural land use.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the country's economic planning, national physical development and urban development frameworks support sustainable development, growth and management of cities.

He said implementation was localised in order to extend the programmes' reach.

"To implement the strategies and programmes, we are strengthening the role of the local government as the third tier of government machinery, so that they are innovative, efficient, and capable of collaborating and partnering with the community, the private sector, as well as with organisations from other countries," Zahid said in a speech read by Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar at the closing of the 9th World Urban Forum (WUF9) today.

Zahid also said Malaysia would not sideline development in rural areas, despite the experiencing a rapid growth in urbanisation.

He said the government would ensure objectives under the 2018 Budget and the 11th Malaysia Plan to be implemented effectively and efficiently.

"As an example, we will ensure that the citizens, or peoples’ home ownership agenda, introduced in 2013 will be continued. We aim to build one million affordable houses, through collaboration between the state governments and the private sector.

"To support national innovation, our major cities need to innovate to stay relevant. Today, major cities in the world do not only compete for investments, but also for best talents to transform themselves.

"Hence, to increase the competitiveness of our nation, cities, namely Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, Kuching, and Kota Kinabalu, have been selected to spur economic growth.

"The urban and the rural are increasingly inter-connected. Rural areas have become places of consumption, as leisure and recreation have become important functions of rural areas."

This year's WUF9's theme was “Cities 2030, Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda”.

The week-long event was attended by 33, 500 from 194 nations.

Zahid said in visualising Malaysia's growth by 2030, the country would see a population of about 36 million, the urbanisation rate increased to 80 per cent, gross domestic production at RM2.6 trillion, GDP per capita of more than RM117,000, and world trade would have exceeded US$44 trillion.

On another note, Zahid said Malaysia would uphold the three aspects of WU9's Kuala Lumpur Declaration.

"One, that the policies, strategies and action plans in Malaysia’s Development Policies and growth plans, are enforced and implemented with the right government support of finance, coordination, manpower and machinery.

"Secondly we give priority on urban issues and climate change, without compromising on rural equality, social cohesion and economic growth in all sectors.

"Thirdly, we ensure the voices of the people are heard, and partnerships developed to have more effective actions, and desired outcomes for the good of all."

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