Don’t cancel big projects as they can create many jobs, says Najib

Former prime minister Najib Razak wants it mandatory for people using public transport like LRT to wear masks and to introduce mass testing for Covid-19.

PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak said the country needs a national recovery package to create jobs, put money into the people’s pockets and assist businesses to keep their operations going as demand falls.

“What we need is not an economic stimulus package but a national recovery plan,” he said in an interview with The Outlook Asia economic portal on Facebook Live today.

He said the RM250 billion stimulus package announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is for a specific time but more needs to be done during such unprecedented times.

Najib said in the US, unemployment benefit claims had risen from 210,000 to 6.7 million and warned that this could happen here, too.

Due to that, he asked Putrajaya to continue with the construction of the MRT 3 line, the High Speed Rail linking Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and the East Coast Rail Line as such projects could create thousands of jobs for Malaysians.

He said Malaysian businesses were suffering, with some losing up to 80% of their businesses.

“They tell me they cannot keep their company running when there is no demand (from customers),” he added.

To solve this, he asked Putrajaya to review laws, including introducing a bankruptcy moratorium.

He said landlords must not force tenants, especially those in the B40 segment, to vacate their premises for failing to pay rent for at least six months.

“We are facing an emergency. We must act fast to help the rakyat and businesses.”

Najib said allowing people to withdraw money from their Account 2 of their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) is only part of the solution, further stating that EPF needs projects that could benefit them so that they could declare more bonus for the rakyat.

“We must put money in people’s pockets. When they spend, it will bring a positive impact.”

He said mass testing for Covid-19 could help tackle the problem at a faster rate.

He was in favour of making it mandatory for people to wear masks in public areas, especially when using the LRT and other public transport lines.

“If we want to improve the economy, we need to focus on curbing Covid-19 first,” he added.

Najib said there may be a global recession when demand and supply weaken.

Najib said for the economy to recover, one of the main points to consider will be to increase domestic supply as “we cannot depend on the export market”.

The food chain must not be disrupted and “we need to see how to produce more food”, he said.

This comes in the wake of the Vietnamese government’s decision on March 24 to suspend rice exports to ensure food security amid the Covid-19 outbreak.