PETALING JAYA: Economy minister Rafizi Ramli today sought to clarify his remarks about the country’s “unprecedented” quarterly economic growth following criticism by former Economic Action Council executive director Noor Azlan Ghazali.
Rafizi said while he welcomed views and analyses from all parties, he hoped that the public would be aware of the “true context” behind the country’s economic growth.
He said he had meant to inform the public not only about how the country’s recent economic growth was positive every quarter, but also how each subsequent quarter exhibited higher growth than the previous one.
The country’s economy grew 0.9%, 1.5% and 2.6% over the first three quarters of this year on a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted basis.
Rafizi issued a statement including data from the statistics department on quarterly growth figures since 2016, stating that while the country’s economy had grown during the period, the growth rate had “varied from one quarter to another”.
“Typically, if there is economic growth in the first quarter, even though the economy continues to expand in the second or third quarter, the growth rate is lower than the previous quarter,” he said.
“In 2016, for example, the economy grew in the first quarter by 0.9%, and the second quarter showed improved growth at 1.3%. But this increasing momentum could not be sustained in the third quarter, when growth dropped to 1.1%.
“Although the economy grew in all three quarters, as mentioned by Noor Azlan, the momentum was slower after two quarters.”
Rafizi said the country’s economic growth from Q1 2023 to Q3 2023 was the first time since 2016 that quarterly growth momentum had remained strong, describing it as a positive sign that the economy was recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The recovery is happening with a quarterly growth momentum that is very good and has never happened before,” he added.
However, the data Rafizi shared showed that Malaysia’s economy had recorded increasingly higher growth rates from Q3 2016 to Q1 2017 (1.1%, 1.4%, 1.7%) and from Q4 2018 to Q1 2019 (0.5%, 1.5%, 2.6%).
Last week, Rafizi was reported as saying that the back-to-back quarterly growth the country had recorded since Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim took over as finance minister was proof that the Madani economic framework was working.
In a Malay Mail report, Rafizi said this was the “first time in years that economic growth from one quarter to another registered subsequent growth, and this (is) unprecedented”.
In response, Noor Azlan, who was recently appointed as an expert to the parliamentary special select committee on finance and economy, said that he wished to correct Rafizi.
Noor Azlan said that generally, Malaysia’s economic growth per quarter had been positive unless it was facing a crisis.
“In essence, economic growth for three consecutive quarters is rather common. While I agree it is encouraging, there is nothing extraordinary about it,” he said in a Facebook post.