KUALA LUMPUR: The finance minister’s political secretary Tony Pua today denied that the economy is experiencing a current account deficit, saying Malaysia’s current account balance will remain in surplus for 2019.
Pua was responding to a Bloomberg interview hosted by David Ingles with UBS Global Wealth Management regional chief investment officer Kelvin Tay on April 11.
“Tay argued that Malaysia has a current account deficit. This is quite scary as Malaysia has always prided itself as an economy with a current account surplus, with our value of exports well exceeding imports being one of the country’s key strengths,” he said in a statement.
“For example, in 2018, Malaysia registered a current account surplus of 2.3% of gross domestic product (GDP). Given Malaysia’s very healthy trade surplus so far, the country’s current account balance will remain in surplus for 2019.”
He acknowledged however that Malaysia has a moderate fiscal deficit, which he said is typical of developing countries. In 2018, deficit was 3.7% of GDP. It is projected to fall to 3.4% this year.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has also projected that Malaysia’s fiscal deficit will further decline to 3% for 2020 and less than 2.8% for 2021.
Commenting on Tay’s claims that oil revenue makes up 30% of Malaysia’s GDP, Pua said this is incorrect and that Malaysia is well-recognised by the investment community as having a fairly diversified economy.
He highlighted as example Malaysia’s mining (including the oil and gas sector), manufacturing and services sectors which made up 7.9%, 23% and 55.5% of GDP in 2018, respectively.