Facing Covid19 – “A fast closing window”

Facing Covid19 – “A fast closing window”

IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath and former President Barack Obama’s top economic adviser, Jason Furman have advocated using heavy fiscal firepower for a “whatever-it-takes” economic response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Among the drastic measures proposed are: ‘helicopter money,’ where everyone gets a no-strings-attached handout and state investment banks providing unlimited emergency lending to firms.

Countries that are most likely able to this are countries which have been managing their economies well in the last 30 or 40 years, unfortunately this may not be the case for Malaysia. The endemic corruption that the country has had to endure this last few decades will probably now come to haunt us in the next few months.

Malaysia is still trying to develop strategies along divisions of people grouped along very flawed definitions of what is B40, M40 and T20. This is because we just cannot afford providing “helicopter money” for all. Malaysia has so much potential and the slogan “kitajagakita” best enumerates what people feel about their government, that at the end of the day we will survive in spite of our government.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin when facing the people to announce the second financial stimulus package admitted that his is not a government that the majority voted for, yet he now has an opportunity that most unelected governments can only dream of. An opportunity to prove that sometimes, though rarely a government not chosen by the people can perform better than a government that the people deserve because of the way they voted.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin has an opportunity to do the necessary and he can do so knowing he will not be judged in the next elections for the way he came into power but rather be judged for the things he did in spite of the situation he was in. He must ensure that whatever happens after this pandemic, people’s livelihood and their jobs have had minimal interruptions because he found a way to put money into people’s pocket and ensured that all SMEs managed to get back on their feet with minimal interruptions to their workforce and their cash flows.

This is not the time to protect the GLCs or the MNCs or those who do have the cash including the banks. This is the time to take care of supply chains, to take care of all citizens, to ensure that people’s jobs are protected, to take care of the small medium industries.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the front-liners during this pandemic fighting the Covid19 and the ensuing fallout from the disease, the government has a duty to ensure that their efforts mean for something by ensuring that in the aftermath of the pandemic people are able to recover as soon as possible.

We hope that if there is one thing we can learn from this pandemic is that Malaysia will have learnt its lesson, by stamping out corruption we can ensure that we can save for a future where we can be better prepared to fight future unseen enemies. It is pointless spending money for outdated defense equipment or spending money on unused government services merely for the sake of offering jobs to unemployable graduates. We have tried playing from the same game book for the last 60 years, it is time to reset and reboot the way we do things moving forward.

We have to be ready in future to reduce the size of the government and increase the potential and the capacity of the private sector which all over the world is regarded as income generators as compared to government services which are regarded and expenditures and a consumption of income.

I believe that Tan Sri Muhyiddin has the ability to do what is necessary, for all we know, he may be the Prime Minister we were waiting for. Fingers crossed.

Stephen Doss is a General Manager at Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of The Leaders Online