Govt told to be 'honest' amid concerns economic damage downplayed

·2-min read
Govt told to be 'honest' amid concerns economic damage downplayed
Govt told to be 'honest' amid concerns economic damage downplayed

The Finance Ministry has been urged to be upfront about the state of the economy amid concerns that it was downplaying the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the country.

Johor Bahru MP Akmal Nasir said this after Bank Negara Malaysia and the Department of Statistics on Feb 11 announced that the country's gross domestic product (GDP) for 2020 contracted by 5.6 percent.

This was higher than the government's projection contraction of 4.5 percent under Budget 2021.

"This raises the question about the government's transparency and whether it is honestly and accurately reporting on the state of the national economy.

"There is a major contradiction when the government's estimates significantly deviated from reality.

"The government also continues to make statements urging the people not to worry and that the country's economy is on the right track for recovery," Akmal said in a statement today.

He added that when the government made the -4.5 percent estimate, the Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd had already projected a GDP of -5.7 percent which was very close to the final number.

He also noted the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s Investment Trends Monitor which found Malaysia's foreign direct investment last year had plunged 68 percent to just US$2.5 billion (RM10.1 billion) compared to the preceding year.

This was on top of Fitch Rating downgrading Malaysia's credit rating from A- to BBB+ which will drive up the cost of borrowing for Malaysia, he added.

Considering these factors, Akmal questioned if the government will also miss its projected GDP growth of 6.5 to 7.5 percent this year.

The projection for this year was made before the second movement control order which took effect on Jan 13 amid spiralling Covid-19 cases.

"The finance minister should be realistic, honest and transparent in presenting economic figures.

"He should not become entangled in the political game of making Perikatan Nasional look good by confusing and misleading the people," Akmal added.