KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysians should stay united and work as a nation to ensure the country’s economy remains on the growth path next year, which is set to be another challenging year amid prospects for global growth and trade remaining uncertain.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said being an open economy, Malaysia needs to be mindful of external risks that may adversely affect the country and the government will continue to take proactive measures to tackle headwinds.
The protracted period of low oil prices and volatile financial markets could further destabilise the outlook for oil-exporting and emerging economies, he said in the preface of the Economic Report 2016/2017 released in conjunction with the 2017 Budget announced by Najib here today.
“We continue to take proactive measures, work together as a nation and leverage digital technology, innovation and creativity. These factors will enable us to further strengthen our economic fundamentals and withstand external uncertainties.
“I am confident that being united, steadfast and forward looking, we can build a competitive and resilient economy. This will enable us to achieve advanced and high-income status by 2020, bringing prosperity and better welfare for the rakyat and the nation,” said Najib.
For 2016, the economy continued to grow by 4.1 per cent during the first half of the year, which was mainly supported by strong domestic economic activity, particularly private investment and consumption.
“For the year, we are confident of achieving a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of between four per cent and 4.5 per cent,” he said.
Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said the government will continue to implement rakyat-centric programmes and projects.
He said concerted efforts were undertaken to mitigate the rising cost of living, providing affordable houses, quality healthcare, education and skill-training.
In terms of public finance, the government through various fiscal consolidation measures, reduced the fiscal deficit from 6.7 per cent of GDP in 2009 to 3.2 per cent in 2015 and is envisaged to be further reduced to 3.1 per cent in 2016.
“We are committed to achieving a near balanced budget by 2020,” said Najib.
On trade, he said the participation in trade agreements such as Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, Regional Cooperation Economic Partnership and Malaysia-European Free-Trade Association Economic Partnership Agreement will enable Malaysian business entities to scale-up their operations to meet higher demand from wider market access.
“Malaysia’s participation in various bilateral and multilateral trade agreement is a strategic move to benefit from the third globalisation wave where the value of the international trade is expected to increase fourfold by 2050,” he added.
In 2016, Malaysia’s total trade is expected to reach RM1.5 trillion.- BERNAMA