DAP man pans govt’s ‘green shoots’ assessment of economy

Charles Santiago says the ‘green shoots’ terminology used to describe Malaysia’s economic recovery is ‘very misleading’.

KUALA LUMPUR: Klang MP Charles Santiago today challenged the government’s opinion that the economy is showing “green shoots” in its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, calling such terminology “absolutely very misleading”.

“People are back at work and businesses are beginning to open. It’s normal,” said Santiago, an economist by training.

“What we need is sustainability in the medium and long term, and I can assure you this is going to be very challenging,” he added during a press conference at Parliament here.

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz last week said the economy had started to show green shoots as the unemployment rate in June declined to 4.9% from 5.3% in May.

He also said the Industrial Production Index rebounded 26.2% in June from May while wholesale and retail sales grew 21.8% in June compared with the previous month.

All non-essential businesses were closed from March 18 due to the movement control order, imposed to stem the spread of Covid-19. Restrictions were eased in May and June.

Santiago also questioned Tengku Zafrul’s assessment that the country is seeing a V-shaped recovery, which started in May, saying it was still too early to plot the direction of the country’s economic recovery.

“I think the only way we will know whether it is going to be a V, a U or a W is the amount of money the government is going to pump into the economy,” said the DAP lawmaker.

“Clearly, RM45 billion is not enough. I don’t have the numbers in front of me now, but looking at other countries like Singapore, Thailand, Japan and Canada, we are clearly very far behind.”

The Dewan Rakyat is currently debating the Temporary Measures for Reducing the Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) Bill 2020, which seeks to support the various economic stimulus packages announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin earlier this year.

Among others, the bill seeks to increase expenditure to up to RM45 billion for programmes to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.