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ASTRO Tonight Interview: M’sia needs to ramp up spending, not slow it down

Produced by Astro Awani

PM says Malaysia is running out of money since the announcement of the various stimulus measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. Is that really the case?

Our Executive Director, Tan E Hun spoke in ASTRO Tonight about why the figures cited are misleading, and highlighting it is now that we should ramp up spending, not slow it down.

Why should we ramp up spending? She opined that the current conditions are not much better than they were 6 months ago, as a lot of indicators show that the economy is still suffering from the effects of the pandemic. To name a few, unemployment rates are not decreasing, retail sales are still badly affected, many businesses are struggling to remain open, domestic and international travel is still practically non-existence. On the other hand, the pandemic is still not under control, and there is a constant looming worry of reintroducing the various MCOs.

On whether and how we can maintain fiscal discipline, she stressed that she is not advocating for reckless spending, but unless the nation has more control of the pandemic and closer to achieving herd immunity, it is a bit too soon to talk about restoring fiscal discipline. She suggested that a sector by sector targeted approach may be a way to slowly move towards a more balanced budgetary approach, thereby achieving better fiscal discipline.

On what sort of targeted injections should the government aim for going forward, she highlighted the need to move away from “life support” measures such as wage subsidy, loan moratoriums; but instead focus on “stimulus policies” and shift towards strategic investments and infrastructures to help boost the economy in the right direction. She gave examples of bringing in initiatives that promotes inclusiveness such as ensuring everyone has equal access to broadband/internet, and policies that propel future growth sectors like green / renewable energy, the care economy, high end agriculture, and the services sector.