ISKANDAR PUTERI: The government is confident that the country’s economic growth forecast of between 6.0 and 7.5 per cent targeted for this year can be achieved if the COVID-19 situation takes a turn for the better.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said this was supported by several positive signs showing that the country’s economy was heading towards recovery.
“Regardless, we are confident of Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) forecast of 6.0 to 7.5 per cent growth, as well as that of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of 6.5 per cent, this year.
“There are (positive) signs, as in two weeks’ time, BNM will release the country’s first quarter economic growth rate.
“We are confident that the range of 6.0 to 7.5 percent, which depends on the COVID-19 situation, means if the situation is stable and (the infections are) reduced, we may be able to reach the upper end 7.5 per cent,” he told reporters here, today.
The good signs seen include rising exports and declining unemployment in February, industrial indices development, and increasing commodity prices, namely that of oil palm and world oil prices.
However, Mustapa admitted that it was an uphill task in planning Budget 2022, with COVID-19 still looming and financial resource constraints facing the country.Hence, he said the government was in the process of considering all applications for next year’s development allocation from all states, ministries and related agencies by focusing on projects that would have a big impact on the people.
The application and discussion process started on April 12 and is expected to end in June, he said, adding that the process was quite intensive as the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) was discussing with all parties involved, especially in the face of COVID-19.Mustapa said once the discussions are finalised in August, the outcome will be scrutinised by the Ministry of Finance for further action.
“We are aware of the financial constraints as some resources need to be channelled to address COVID-19, as welll as to protect the well-being of the people.”Hence, we have to be prudent in spending and ensure that the projects approved would have an impact on the people,” he said.
Earlier, Mustapa attended a briefing from Johor Petroleum Development Corporation Bhd on the development of the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex and implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit System by the Iskandar Regional Development Authority.
He also called on Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Ir Hasni Mohammad.