Finance minister: Malaysia’s economy recovery rate depends on how fast we overcome Covid-19 pandemic

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
File picture shows Senator Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz speaking to reporters as he officially begins his first day as Finance Minister in Putrajaya 10, March 10, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 — With many eager to see how and if the Malaysian economy can bounce back and show signs of recovery within 2020, the Finance Minister has weighed in saying the answer to that depends on how we handle the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Many have asked me, does the government expect to see economic recovery this year?

“The answer to that is contingent on how well and quickly we can overcome the threat of Covid-19 in the country.

“All Malaysians must play their part and be united in responding to this fight,” said Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz in a statement today.

However, Tengku Zafrul said despite the threat being invisible, it is in no way invincible.

He said the RM250 billion Prihatin stimulus package announced last week is estimated to contribute 2.8 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product for 2020, adding that forecasts have projected the economy to rebound in 2021 with some recovery expected towards the end of 2020.

“Yet, downside risks remain as the Covid-19 situation is unprecedented and we need to expect the unexpected.

“Nevertheless, we have the capacity and fiscal space to meet future uncertainties, and the government is fully aware of the need to be agile, and to respond swiftly,” wrote.

He also revealed that engagements between the government and members of the business community, including those concerning Small Medium Enterprises( SMEs), were conducted the whole of last week saying the ministry is looking into all the suggestions given.

“We have collated and considered all feedback, and certain areas have been identified for fine-tuning and improvements.

“Next week, our Prime Minister is expected to announce further support measures for Malaysian micro-businesses and SMEs,” he announced.

He added that Bank Negara Malaysia will in the meantime ensure the financial system remains stable, ready with deep liquidity and strong buffers.

Tengku Zafrul revealed how there is currently a RM121 billion of excess capital buffer in the financial system, far more than the RM39 billion it had during the financial crisis of 2008.

“On the capital market side, the Securities Commission and Bursa Malaysia will continue to ensure that markets stay open, transparent and orderly,” he added.

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