PETALING JAYA: As Malaysia transitions into the endemic stage of Covid-19, the country has an opportunity to chart a new narrative, says Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of Khazanah Megatrends Forum 2021, Tengku Zafrul said the National Recovery Plan (NRP), the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) and the upcoming Budget 2022 would be the guide for the new narrative.
With successful implementation of these three key policy documents, the minister expressed his confidence that Malaysia will recover and become more resilient in 2022 and beyond.
“The story of recovery will continue with Budget 2022 which will be expansionary while laying the foundations for the government’s wider and longer-term reform efforts.
“Budget 2022 will focus on the 3Rs, namely Recovery, Resilience and Reform.
“The NRP and Budget 2022 will form the building blocks for Malaysia’s longer-term recovery and reform efforts through the 12MP,” he said.
Tengku Zafrul, who is also a board member of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, said efforts must be made to not only address Covid-19, but also to emerge more resilient post-pandemic.
In addition, in pursuing short-term goals to prevent an economic recession, he said Malaysia must also take the opportunity to address structural issues in the medium and longer term.A proper digital infrastructure will also be crucial, especially in reducing urban-rural inequality, he added.
Tengku Zafrul said that Malaysia has changed its narrative in a span of two generations through progress on many fronts.
Between 1990 and 2020, the country’s gross national income per capita expanded nearly six-fold to over RM42,000. Roughly 32% of the labour force currently possess tertiary qualifications, a more than three-fold increase from 1990.
The incidence of poverty reduced significantly to 5.6% in 2019. Over the same period, income inequality also fell.
From a low-income country known largely for its exports of tin and rubber, Malaysia’s economy has become open, competitive, trade-oriented and well-diversified. It is supported by more than two decades of current account surpluses, adequate levels of international reserves and sizeable external assets.
Nevertheless, Tengku Zafrul acknowledged that there is “much left to do”.
“Malaysia has yet to become a fully developed economy.
“Growth moderated in the last decade.Several disparities and structural issues persist, including the rising cost of living, higher youth unemployment and industries concentrated in the lower end of the production value chain,” he said.