Malaysia set for recovery next year with most employees back to work, says Tengku Zafrul

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz says the government is implementing a ‘6R’ approach to weather the economic downturn. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has the capacity to stage an economic recovery next year following the Covid-19 pandemic, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz said.

He said nearly 70% of the workforce had returned to work with the reopening of the economy.

“We must rise again and record a positive Gross Domestic Product growth as opposed to the negative GDP forecast for this year in line with the global economic growth,” he said in an interview in a Bernama TV documentary, “Malaysians United Against COVID-19”.

Tengku Zafrul noted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had forecast a 3% contraction in the global economy for 2020 because of the pandemic, adding that Malaysia’s economy, like those of other countries, would be affected.

He said the government was implementing the 6R approach – Resolve, Resilience, Restart, Recovery, Revitalise and Reform – to weather the economic downturn.

The first phase, Resolve, refers to the government’s determination to curb the deadly virus by imposing the movement control order (MCO) from March 18, when the country’s Covid-19 graph was showing a high number of new cases and urgent measures were required to flatten the curve.

Under the second phase, Resilience, the RM250 billion Prihatin Rakyat economic stimulus package was unveiled on March 27 and an additional RM10 billion allocation announced on April 6.

The focus, he said, was on the people affected by the crisis as well as the micro and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“The third R, Restart, was the move to reopen or recharge the economy in stages, while the fourth R, Recovery, is the country’s present recovery phase,” he said.

Under the fifth phase, Revitalise, a plan focusing on the medium term would be announced in either October or November.

The final phase, Reform, involves planning for the long term to reform the structure of the country’s economy.

“This will focus on the 12th Malaysia Plan, which will be unveiled in January 2021,” he said.

Tengku Zafrul said more than 640,000 micro enterprises had applied for the Special Prihatin Grant (GKP) amounting to RM2.1 billion during the registration period from May 1 to 15.

“We are sifting through the applications. Each successful applicant will receive RM3,000 from the government. The grant is aimed at helping the micro SMEs in terms of cash flow and they do not have to repay the money,” he said.

He cautioned against being complacent during the pandemic. “As long as we do not have a vaccine, we need to follow the standard operating procedures set by the government. I am confident we can function well amid the new normal,” he said.

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