Malaysia to fully reopen by end-2021, says Tengku Zafrul

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© Provided by New Straits TimesKUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s economy is expected to be fully re-opened by the end of the year, before resuming to pre-pandemic growth in 2022, said Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

Malaysia’s growth rate had been projected at 5.8 per cent and 6.0 per cent in 2022 by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) respectively, Tengku Zafrul added.

“This performance will be supported by a gradual normalisation of domestic economic activities, as well as the positive spill over effects from continued improvement in external demand,” he said in his keynote address at Invest Malaysia 2021 today,

Additional growth drivers will include increased commodity-related production capacity, a global tech up cycle and faster progress of large infrastructure projects with high multiplier effects.

“As a trade-oriented economy, our fate is tied to the prospects of our most important trading partners. The recent growth performance of Singapore, America and China in the first half of 2021 bodes well for our own economic recovery in the months ahead,” Tengku Zafrul said.

However, he said the IMF’s recent downward revision of global growth prospects for 2021 reflected the challenges from vaccine inequality and in normalising socio-economic activities, particularly in emerging and developing economies.

“The emergence of inflationary pressures, combined with shortages of everything from natural gas to micro-chips, further pose a challenge to a smooth global recovery. Despite these challenges, I am confident that we are at the cusp of recovery, driven by the National Recovery Plan, the upcoming 2022 Budget and the recently-announced 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP),” he added.

Tengku Zafrul said the pathway to recovery began with National Recovery Plan (NRP), a comprehensive approach to preserve lives and allow the economy to open safely.

Introduced in June, the NRP reflected nothing less than a whole-of- government and a whole-of-nation approach with recent developments include the allowance of both inter-state and overseas travel for those fully vaccinated and on-going efforts to simplify standard operating procedures to just 10.

“These developments are on the back of a robust vaccination programme, with Malaysia currently having one of the fastest vaccination rates in the world,” he said.

As of October 13 this year, more than 21 million people or over 90 per cent of the country’s adult population are fully vaccinated.

“InsyaAllah (God willing), we are on track to have nearly 100 per cent of the adult population fully vaccinated by the end of this month. We have also started vaccinating our teenagers, with over 74 per cent of those aged 12 to 17 receiving at least one dose,” he said.

Tengku Zafrul said the next evolution of the NRP would prepare Malaysia for the next normal of living with Covid-19 as an endemic disease.

In maintaining livelihoods, he said the government had introduced eight assistance packages in addition to 2021 Budget throughout the pandemic.

“All in, over RM340 billion has been disbursed as of September 2021, saving 2.7 million jobs while benefiting over 20 million rakyat and 2.4 million businesses. About RM300 billion remain for the rest of the year, including an additional RM10 billion worth of direct aid for B40s, M40s, gig workers, the hardcore poor and the unemployed,” he said.

© New Straits Times Press (M)

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