PM says GDP forecast for 2020 remains at 4.8pc, despite challenging times

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during the dialogue session with the French business community in Cyberview Lodge Resort, Cyberjaya February 10, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during the dialogue session with the French business community in Cyberview Lodge Resort, Cyberjaya February 10, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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CYBERJAYA, Feb 10 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today maintained that Malaysia’s 2020 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) target still stands at 4.8 per cent, against a turbulent global and national economy.

Dr Mahathir was echoing Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s remark in December, in which the latter said that the government is confident of being able to achieve its economic growth target of 4.8 per cent for this year, even after the World Bank dialled down its forecast for the country.

However, he said there is still room for revision later, depending on the outcome of this year’s achievement.

“Our GDP is forecast to grow at 4.8 per cent this year, despite challenging times.

“With good fiscal discipline, our budget deficit will narrow to 3.2 per cent this year,” Dr Mahathir said, adding that the government is committed to providing a stable business environment for investors.

“In fact, we will revive our Malaysia Incorporated Policy, which means close cooperation between the government and the private sector,” he said during a dialogue with the French business community, organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry France Malaysia (CCIFM).

The World Bank’s latest prediction, announced last year, was that the Malaysian economy would grow at a rate of 4.5 per cent in 2020, compared to its initial figure of 4.6 per cent.

World Bank’s macroeconomics, trade and investment lead economist Richard Record was reported as saying the slightly lower GDP forecast was largely due to weaker-than-anticipated investment and export growth in the third quarter of 2019.

On the government’s plan to introduce an economic stimulus package for the tourism industry to reduce the impact of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), Dr Mahathir said that the government is already looking into it.

He said that the government is also training its sights on attracting Europeans, South Asians and Indian nationals to Malaysia, to boost tourism, after a selected ban on Chinese nationals from the Hubei, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, following their lockdown by the Chinese government due to the ongoing 2019-nCoV outbreak.

“We are looking into that.

“Ya. It’s a tough thing to bring people to come here, but obviously we have to look at how we can attract maybe Europeans and South Asians, Indians to Malaysia,” he added.

On Saturday, state news agency Bernama reported that the Finance Ministry (MoF) would be meeting with tourism industry players today, to collect feedback for a proposed economic stimulus package, to reduce the impact of said virus outbreak.

Lim reportedly said that the meeting would discuss issues that could plague the tourism sector, should the virus outbreak drag on for a prolonged period.

“We will table this (proposed) economic stimulus package. I will meet all players in the tourism sector and get the discussion process going.

“We hope that after it (economic stimulus package) is tabled in Cabinet, it can be announced,” he reportedly told a press conference in Penang.

*A previous version of this story contained errors which have since been corrected.

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