Johari dismisses Kadir Jasin’s ‘flawed’ economic argument

PETALING JAYA: Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani has poured cold water over the claims made by veteran newsman A Kadir Jasin about the country’s economy.

Defending his claim that Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was among the best in Asean despite the global economic slowdown, Johari said the facts he used were taken from official reports on the country’s economy as well as Bank Negara Malaysia.

These facts were also cited by international investors and rating agencies, to evaluate Malaysia’s economic growth.

“For Kadir’s reference, in 1998 our country’s GDP was only at RM288 billion. In 2008 it went up to RM924 billion and in 2015, it stood at RM1.15 trillion.

“This shows that the country’s economic growth plan is in line with our past leaders’ hope to make Malaysia a developed country by 2020,” said Johari in a statement today.

In his Sinar Harian column last weekend, Kadir questioned Johari’s move to compare Malaysia’s GDP to that of Singapore’s alone.

The former New Straits Times group editor-in-chief also said that the comparison was inaccurate as Malaysia was a developing country while Singapore had already achieved developed nation status, hence making it only natural for Malaysia’s economy to grow at a higher rate.

In response to this, Johari said the reason he only compared the two was because he was trying to make a point to his friend, who was also an investor in Singapore.

“For his knowledge, I compared Malaysia to Singapore instead of the Philippines, Vietnam or Indonesia as he suggested, due to the fact that our GDP per capita is far higher than the other three.

“Malaysia’s GDP is USD9,700 per capita while the Philippines’ is USD2,900 per capita, Indonesia’s is USD3,300 per capita and Vietnam’s is USD2,100 per capita.

“That’s why I didn’t want to compare our country to the other three. This also suited Kadir’s argument that ‘the more developed the economy, the harder it is to generate a higher growth rate’.”

The Titiwangsa MP added that during the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis, Malaysia’s GDP shrunk to negative seven per cent and in the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, recorded a negative 1.5 per cent GDP.

However, for 2015 and 2016, despite the drop in global crude oil prices, that caused the government to lose over RM30 billion of its income, the country still recorded a positive economic growth at five per cent and 4.1 per cent, respectively, Johari added.