Malaysians need convincing that their economy is not in shambles

ALREADY with the country’s health system in a critical state, at least three of the country’s top brass owe every citizen an explanation if the Malaysian economy is merely an ‘outpatient’ or if it is ‘in dire need of oxygen’ a.k.a ‘in an ICU (intensive care unit) state’.

At the very least, the Prime Minister, Finance Minister and the Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) must quickly come forward to convince Malaysians if they are indeed in absolute control of the economy or that “Malaysia is not a failed state”.

Beyond Malaysians, the trio also owe an explanation – more to douse anger – of three key investor groups who have side-stepped the protocol of politeness to express their disgust over Malaysia’s flip-flop policy in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

With thinning patience, the three major business chambers have conveyed the frustration of their members with subtle threat of withdrawing from Malaysia altogether given the unending disruption to their supply chain.

They are the (i) Japanese Chamber of Trade & Industry Malaysia (JACTIM) & Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO); the (ii) Malaysian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MGCC); and the (iii) Malaysian-Dutch Business Council (MDBC)).

Another recent concern surrounding the country’s economy is the very fact that Malaysia is in the midst of lowering its economic growth outlook for 2021 to 4% (from the previous range of 6%-7.5%) given movement restrictions to stem the spread of COVID-19 have impeded growth prospects.

“We’re in the midst of revising to a lower number and will share the exact number after we get data from the ground,” Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz told Bloomberg yesterday (July 12).

The Finance Minister who has also been appointed as coordinating minister for the country’s National Recovery Plan also said he would propose raising the debt ceiling to 65% from 60% currently in the Parliament given there’s “enough liquidity in the market” for the Government to borrow to fund stimulus packages.

After months of public and Palace pressure, the Prime Minister’s Office announced on July 5 that the Dewan Rakyat will sit for five days starting July 26 while the Dewan Negara will sit for three days from August 3 to August 5.

More broadly, pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Tan Sri Mahiaddin Yassin with lockdowns costing the economy RM1 bil a day with only 10% of the population fully vaccinated, while the largest party in his ruling coalition – Umno – has just withdrew its support for the premier.

Today, new COVID-19 cases reached a record 11,079 with the Klang Valley – which includes industrious Kuala Lumpur and Selangor – accounting for about 60% of the total cases.

On July 8, the FBM KLCI fell briefly below the psychological 1,500 mark before closing at 1,508.71 while the ringgit is currently hovering at RM4.19/US$ after falling to an 11-month low on Friday (July 9). – July 13, 2021


Photo credit: The Capital Post

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