KUALA LUMPUR – The systematic roll-out of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme and the country’s economic recovery plan that embeds strict adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs) will be the key to drive Malaysia back on its track, making it stronger by end-2021, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said, reported Bernama.
He said based on the current data, the country’s gross domestic growth has slowly shown signs of recovery since the movement control order (MCO) 1.0 in March 2020.
“We have many reasons to believe that the worst is behind us. I am certain that Malaysia will emerge stronger by the end of the year,” he told Bernama.
Tengku Zafrul said the economic sectors that were allowed to operate based on strict SOPs cover 93% of the economy during MCO 2.0 and this has resulted in an output loss of RM300 million per day compared with RM2.4 billion per day during MCO 1.0.
He also said the four economic stimulus packages totalling RM305 billion, or more than 20% of gross domestic product (GDP), coupled with the gradual reopening of the economy since early May 2020 has supported the 2020 GDP by approximately four percentage points.
This has also contributed to the 24% increase in the GDP from RM289.4 billion in 2Q2020, to RM357.4 billion in 4Q2020.
In addition, Budget 2021 tabled last year along with the PERMAI assistance package would further complement Malaysia’s economic recovery and cushion implications from the Covid-19 containment measures.
“Moreover, Malaysia’s National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, which has commenced since late February 2021, will support the reopening of our economy and spur business activities. This will be supported by a robust recovery in global trade and higher crude oil prices,” he explained.
Tengku Zafrul said the ministry is targeting the country’s deficit to be less than 6.2% of GDP for 2021, depending on how fast the economy recovers and the government’s focus on supporting certain sectors to grow the local economy.
The country’s deficit rose to 6.2% of GDP in 2020 from 3.4% in 2019.
Meanwhile, Tengku Zafrul also encouraged all Malaysians to register for the vaccination through the MySejahtera app, or the official website as advertised by the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee.
“It is crucial for the country to achieve herd immunity as soon as possible to ensure full recovery of the economy, including sectors that were hit hardest such as tourism, retail and aviation.”
On different development, the ex-banker said Bank Negara’s decision to maintain the overnight policy rate at 1.75% at its recent monetary policy meeting would help ease the cashflow of individuals and businesses, encourage consumer spending and spur more lending activities by the financial institutions.
“This will provide an impetus towards our economic growth — complementing the government’s fiscal measures in ensuring a sustainable recovery of the economy,” he said.