BY: Michelle Liew

The Government has taken responsive and proactive measures through various assistance and economic stimulus packages, as well as the 2021 Budget amounting to RM322.5 billion, to ensure the well-being of Malaysian families, business sustainability, and economic resilience in dealing with the crisis.

Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz said the government was always committed to helping all Malaysian families, from the people to the business level, to wake up and grow again and this was not just rhetoric.

He said the country’s economy had returned to a strong recovery path through all these efforts, as well as the implementation of the National COVID-19 Immunization Program (PICK), despite the threat of the Delta variant, as well as the flood disaster in 2021.

“Various economic indicators also continue to reflect encouraging developments, including net inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) amounting to almost RM55 billion, total foreign trade reaching more than RM2 trillion and net inflows of foreign investors into the local bond market exceeding RM33 billion, “he said.

He said this while speaking at the launch of the Semarak Niaga Keluarga Malaysia Program on Monday.

Tengku Zafrul said apart from that, in 2021, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would increase by 3.1 per cent, while the unemployment rate for December continued to decline to 4.2 per cent.

“All these data are better than the years before COVID-19 hit the country, however, we must always be vigilant with all the possibilities and challenges of uncertainty for this year,” he said.

He said referring to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the world economic growth forecast for 2022 is expected to be lower than what was achieved in 2021.

“This is due to the threat of the Omicron variant, rising inflation, and disruption of the global supply chain. The projection is also driven by pent-up demand beginning to subside, as well as reduced fiscal support and economic stimulus by governments around the world,” he said.

He said Malaysia was now at a critical stage. In moving towards a developed and high-income nation in line with the goals outlined in the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), the next journey is full of thorns and thistles of climate change, as well as the country’s transition to an aging population, as well as structural issues that certainly cannot be resolved. in a year or two, he said.

Tengku Zafrul said therefore, the strategies and initiatives as well as measures of the 2022 Budget were carefully formulated to continue the momentum of short-term recovery, apart from implementing long-term restructuring policies.

He said in implementing the two agendas, the government would prioritize two main thrusts, namely improving the labor market and empowering the business sector through the 2022 Budget.

“The Semarak Niaga program is designed so that our entrepreneurial community can rise again and continue to grow.

“Together with the Budget 2022 measures that will facilitate business, as well as various tax incentives, all these will also help the country achieve the target of creating 600,000 jobs for Malaysian families this year. God willing, all these efforts will boost the country’s economy,” he said.

He said the program worth more than RM40 billion included direct loans, financing guarantees and equity injections that would benefit every entrepreneur.

Apart from access to financing, strategies to build the resilience of the business sector are also focused on initiatives that will drive strategic investment, facilitate business, as well as strengthen their digitalization and sustainability agendas, he said.

He said the government also remained committed to assisting the still affected sectors such as the tourism, creative and retail industries.

“Overall, these initiatives as well as the Semarak Niaga Program will restore capacity, and empower the business community in driving the country’s economic growth.

“For this year, the government is projecting the country’s economic growth to be between 5.5 and 6.5 per cent, in line with the projections of the IMF (at 5.7 per cent) and the World Bank (at 5.8 per cent),” he said.

He stated that moving forward, the MOF would continue to be committed to being a responsive, accountable and fiscally reformist ministry.