Good news on 3 fronts as Malaysia celebrates Wesak, says Guan Eng

Tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2019 were the highest in two years.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians can celebrate Wesak Day with good news on three economic fronts, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

He said the economy grew by 4.5% in the first quarter of this year, which is above market expectations of 4.3% as compiled by Bloomberg.

Coupled with this is the achievement of RM21.7 billion in realised foreign direct investments (FDI) in the first quarter — the highest level recorded in history for one quarter — and the highest number of tourist arrivals in two years.

Lim said the 4.5% Q1 expansion in the economy showed its resilience in the face of uncertain external challenges caused by the trade war between the United States and China.

He said realised FDI — actual foreign investments during the period — increased by 94.8% in the same quarter from a year ago.

“This indicates the strength of the economy and the rising confidence foreign investors have in Malaysia and its government,” he said in a statement today.

“The RM21.7 billion realised FDI in the first quarter of 2019 is the highest level ever recorded in Malaysian history for one quarter.

“These new investments will raise the economy’s growth potential and create additional jobs for Malaysians in the near future.”

He said the record high FDI mainly came from Japan, which contributed RM8.4 billion, followed by Austria (RM3.7 billion) and Hong Kong (RM2.8 billion).

The government hoped the domestic private sector will emulate the same confidence exhibited by the foreign investors, he said.

Current account surplus in the quarter rose to RM16.4 billion, or 4.7% of gross national income (GNI), from 3.0% in the previous period, and will remain in surplus in the foreseeable future.

Lim also said 6,696,000 tourists visited Malaysia in Q1, the largest since the fourth quarter of 2016.

This was a 2.7% increase from a year ago when 6,520,000 tourists visited Malaysia, and a 3.9% increase when compared to the 2018 fourth quarter (6,446,000).

On the “shared prosperity” agenda announced by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad this week, Lim said the government will pursue inclusive growth to ensure prosperity for all.

Wishing Malaysians Happy Wesak Day, Lim urged them to remember the teachings of Lord Buddha to be good and compassionate, and to help each other and not leave the unfortunate behind.