First 100 Days In Office: Govt puts economy on strong recovery path

First 100 Days In Office: Govt puts economy on strong recovery path

KUALA LUMPUR: A number of plans and strategies, including economic-related sectors to revive the economy and restore livelihoods, laid out by related ministries have borne fruit as the initial short-term targets set by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob(pix) for his cabinet team are approaching the 100 days mark.

Ismail Sabri, who is also Umno vice-president, was appointed as Malaysia’s ninth Prime Minister on Aug 20 to replace Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who resigned on Aug 16 after losing the majority support in Parliament.

On Aug 27, Ismail Sabri announced a list of his ‘results-oriented’ Cabinet line-up involving 31 ministers, including 13 experienced ministers who had helmed the ministries under the previous government that included Senior Minister cum International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed, and Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.

Among the major milestones achieved by the Prime Minister during the 100-day period was the historic memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the federal government and the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan, which helped spur economic confidence and increase foreign direct investments (FDI) to Malaysia, according to analysts.

In a news report on Sept 13, Juwai IQI chief economist Shan Saeed noted that investors have been entering Malaysian markets again due to rising political stability and the government’s commitment to put the economy on the path of growth.

“The federal government is totally committed to macroeconomic stability for growth which ushers in economic progression in the country. This move benefits the masses and the common man at the macro level,” he said.

In a statement on Sept 30, 2021, Ismail Sabri said all cabinet ministers have been instructed to announce their respective Report Card on 100-Day Achievement of Keluarga Malaysia Aspirations to the public.

The Prime Minister said this was to allow the people to assess the performance of ministers and their ministries in ensuring the wellbeing of Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian Family).

He said the government has placed the achievement of Keluarga Malaysia aspirations as the utmost priority for each minister in giving their best service to the people.

The Cabinet meeting on Sept 10 decided that the 100 days would begin on Sept 1, the day the ministers had their first meeting.

During his first 100 days, Ismail Sabri unveiled the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) 2021-2025, of which RM400 billion is allocated under the five-year national roadmap, an increase of 61 per cent compared to the actual expenditure of RM248.5 billion for the 11th MP.

Ismail Sabri, when announcing the plan, said the 12MP comes with three themes, four catalytic policy enablers and 14 game changers in providing a strong foundation for Malaysia’s future.

The 12MP aims to further boost the economy, including raising the socio-economic conditions of the lower income groups, particularly the Bumiputera community. One of the proposals was to allow the sale of Bumiputera shares or companies only to Bumiputera consortia, companies or individuals.

Mustapa was quoted as saying that Bumiputera share ownership comprised shares owned by Bumiputera individuals, as well as Bumiputera-mandated institutions, and together they made up about 17.2 per cent of shareholding in 2019.

“What we mean, in our proposal, is that Bumiputera-mandated institutions, which include Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB), Tabung Haji and Ekuiti Nasional Bhd (Ekuinas), can only sell their shares to other Bumiputera institutions, consortia or individuals,” the minister said.

As Malaysia continues to battle Covid-19, the Dewan Rakyat had on Oct 11 also approved a Bill to increase the statutory debt limit to 65 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) from 60 per cent previously.

Tengku Zafrul, who tabled two Bills, namely the National Trust Fund (Amendment) 2021 Bill and the Temporary Measures for Government Financing [Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19)] (Amendment) Bill 2021 in October, said the first Bill was aimed at funding the four aid and stimulus packages — Permai, Pemerkasa, Pemerkasa Plus and Pemulih — which required an additional allocation of RM27 billion.

He said the second one was to increase the ceiling cap for Covid-19 Fund (KWC-19) from RM65 billion to RM110 billion.

As Malaysia was striving to restore its economic growth, the unexpected emergence of the new B.1.1.529 variant, or better known as the Omicron variant, had paved another speed bump along the recovery road.

On Nov 30, Senior Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein announced that Malaysia had to put on hold its transition to the endemic phase of Covid-19 due to uncertainties brought about by the Omicron variant.

However, according to the Finance Minister, Malaysia is on track to achieve the targeted GDP growth of 3.0 to 4.0 per cent this year despite the emergence of the Omicron variant.

“We are monitoring the situation closely, (but) we are still confident that we are on track to meet this year’s GDP target of between 3.0 and 4.0 per cent,” he said during an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box Asia programme aired on Dec 6.

Tengku Zafrul was responding to a question on whether the Omicron variant would pose further downside risk to the Malaysian economy.

The minister stressed that the government is committed to safeguard the people and ensure business continuity, given their importance to the economy and it will always provide strong support to the ecosystem. –Bernama