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Our economy is recovering but still slow, says Johari

KUALA LUMPUR: Former second finance minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani has expressed concern over the country’s economic situation, as well as its slower growth.

This, the Titiwangsa member of parliament, said is happening despite the country’s encouraging gross domestic product (GDP) growth last year.

“Last Friday, the government announced that last year’s GDP growth (was at 8.7 per cent), which was encouraging.

“In terms of percentage, some said it was the fastest among ASEAN countries.

“I see this as an indication that our economy is recovering, compared with the years of 2020 and 2021.

“However, in reality, we should look at the country’s GDP growth between 2017 and 2019, to get the real picture of our economic growth.

“In 2017, our economy grew at 5.8 per cent, 4.8 per cent in 2018 and 4.4 per cent in 2019.”

Johari said on average, Malaysia’s economy grew 5 per cent annually, but this was reserved during the pandemic.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, our economy contracted by 5.5 per cent and in 2021 at 3.1 per cent. This means, our growth is still negative,” he said when debating the royal address at the Dewan Rakyat today.

Explaining this, Johari said between 2020 and last year, Malaysia recorded economic growth at 1.9 per cent.

“This is in contrast to neighbouring countries. In 2020, Singapore, for example, saw their economy contracted to 4.1 per cent, but in 2021 it (grew ) at 7.6 per cent.

“The same goes with Indonesia as their economy contracted at 2.1 per cent in the pandemic year. In 2021, it contracted 3.7 per cent.

“However, in 2021, Malaysia did not recover from 2020. That’s why in 2022, our economy grew 8.7 per cent due to the low-base effect of 2021.

“This economic trend is worrying. In the first quarter of last year (2022), we recorded growth of 3.8 per cent; 3.5 per cent in the second quarter; a decline to 1.9 per cent in the third quarter and shrunk to 2.6 per cent in the fourth quarter.

“This decreasing trend is worrying for the outlook of our economy,” Johari said.

He added the World Bank had forecasted Malaysia’s economy will grow by 4 per cent this year and 3.9 per cent next year, which is still lower than the growth recorded pre-pandemic.

“Indonesia, on the nother hand, stands at 4.8 per cent this year and 4.9 per cent next year. The Philippines is at 5.4 per cent this year, and 5.9 per cent next year; and Vietnam is at 6.3 per cent this year and 6.5 per cent next year.

“The government should be worried about these figures and find ways to reverse it.”

He said the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are also predicting economic growth at the global level to slow down.

Johari also mentioned the need for targeted subsidies.

“Targeted subsidies are crucial, or else we will be forever face a situation where those being given subsidies should not be receiving them in the first place.”

He said to implement targeted subsidies, Malaysia must have the right strategy and right mechanism, along with the right implementation and execution.

“This is so that those who are supposed to get it (targeted subsidies) will get it, or else we will have a higher poverty rate should we get the wrong mechanism.

“At present, everyone gets to enjoy these subsidies. We have more people undeserving of subsidies enjoying them.”

Source : NST

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