KUALA LUMPUR: In his New Year message, Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia’s growth forecast of 4.3 to 4.5 per cent for this year is one that developed countries can only dream of.
He said the year 2016 was a great challenge across the world, while the currencies of emerging markets, including Malaysia, had not escaped the consequences of the recent rise in the US dollar.
“Our estimated growth rate of 4.3 to 4.5 per cent for this year is one that developed countries in Europe and North America can only dream of.
“But here the government has remained steadfast in its commitment to building a safer, more prosperous and more equitable society,” he said.
Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said the government had kept the budget deficit, inflation and unemployment low, as well as built economic resilience amid global turbulence.
“Malaysians should be proud of the growth we are achieving,” he said.
He said Malaysians should also be delighted with the latest International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) report which concluded that, “Despite headwinds, the Malaysian economy continues to perform well.”
The IMF acknowledged the government’s efforts in implementing policies of diversification, exchange rate flexibility and deeper financial markets.
It commended the reforms to encourage female labour participation, improve the quality of education, enhance productivity, invest in infrastructure, and promote research and development, he said.
“Assessments such as these are independent and conducted by the world’s top experts,” Najib said, adding that they reflected the true picture of Malaysia.
“The IMF commends us for having made ‘significant progress toward achieving high-income status’. That is the reality,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said the government was deeply committed to easing the burden of those who sometimes struggle to afford a decent life for their families.
He stressed that the 2017 Budget paid particular attention to the needs of the Bottom 40% and Middle 40%, and announced a huge range of measures to ensure that no one was left behind, from new affordable housing to tax relief and nutritional food packages for hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren.
“Our efforts, to improve the well-being of the Malaysian people are underlined by a commitment to good governance,” he said.
Najib thanked numerous individuals within the civil service who improved efficiency and ensured that government allocations were used in the most meaningful manner.
“In the longer term, our growth must be sustainable and we want it to be shared equitably.
“The large-scale infrastructure projects we are driving across the country will help us achieve this aim,” he said.