KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — DAP chairman Lim Guan Eng today called for a change in the country’s economic managers following a depreciating ringgit and with the current inflation rate up to 4.7 per cent.
Lim said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Economic Affairs Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and Special Cabinet Task Force on Jihad Against Inflation chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa have failed to carry out their responsibilities as inflation had hit a 16-month high of 4.7 per cent as of last month, from 4.4 per cent in July.
He said because of the poor performance of the two economic managers and their failure to check inflation has caused Bank Negara to raise the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) resulting in borrowers having to pay higher interest costs.
“Since the increase in OPR to 2.5 per cent was made before the latest August inflation data was available, Bank Negara is expected to increase the OPR further by November this year and January next year to 3 per cent, thereby imposing a heavier financial burden on Malaysians and businesses.
“Unless Prime Minister Ismail Sabri replaces failed economic managers and inflation fighters, Malaysians will have to bear more financial pain,” he said.
Lim, a former finance minister said the failure to check rising inflation has caused food prices to increase from 3.4 per cent and 6.1 per cent respectively in June to 4.7 per cent and 7.2 per cent in August 2022.
“Annuar Musa irresponsibly dismissed the current decline in the value of the ringgit against the US dollar as only temporary.
“How can the decline be temporary when the US dollar has dropped to a new 24-year low of RM4.58 today?
“The current decline of value of the ringgit against the US dollar is not temporary as the Ringgit has weakened by almost 10 per cent this year from RM4.17 at the end of 2021.
“Malaysians are forced to pay higher import costs and the Malaysian government is repaying higher for the US-denominated loans, especially the US$6.5 billion 1 MDB loans, which are definitely not temporary in nature as the losses cannot be recouped,” he said.
He criticised Annuar for implying that the decline in the value of the ringgit is principally against the US dollar, when the ringgit has also declined against Singapore and Indonesia, two of the country’s major trading partners.
“Against the Singapore dollar, the ringgit has recently dipped to a historic low of RM3.26 whilst the Indonesian rupiah has appreciated by more than 4 per cent this year against the ringgit.
“Is dismissing the depreciating ringgit as temporary a feeble excuse not to do anything because the government simply does not know what to do or is too lazy to heed suggestions of carrying out structural economic reforms,?” he asked.