CYBERJAYA, Feb 17 — The objective of the upcoming economic stimulus package, aside from mitigating the impact of the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak, is also to assist industries in rebounding once it has blown over, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
He said his ministry is taking the view that the outbreak is only a temporary challenge.
“If the coronavirus outbreak blows over by April or so, the national economy should be able to rebound”, Lim said after officiating the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation and Bank Simpanan Nasional’s RM500 million matching grant programme for the digitalisation of small and medium enterprises, at Cyberview Resort and Spa in here.
He added the package is also meant to ensure enough industry players remain around in order to benefit from the anticipated post-coronavirus rebound.
“We will see what we can do to help, but we cannot fully reimburse their losses, only try to mitigate it.
“To this, I would encourage industry players to retrain their employees so they can undertake other jobs, instead of simply letting them go if they are unable to serve in their current capacity. Do everything possible during this trying time,” Lim said.
When questioned what industry sectors will stand to benefit the most from the package, the minister simply said the package will be ‘as encompassing as possible’.
Lim also dismissed the possibility of a recession hitting Malaysia due to the outbreak, despite Bank Negara Malaysia’s announcement last Wednesday that 2019’s GDP growth of 4.3 per cent has been the lowest in over 10 years.
“Sometimes the fear of disease is worse than the disease itself. We should face such challenges by relying on facts and counting on the economy’s resilience, as opposed to listening to fake news or fear-mongering,” he said.
The fourth quarter of 2019 saw the economy expanding 3.6 per cent, the lowest since the 2009 financial crisis and attributed to supply disruptions in the commodity sector during the quarter.
The stimulus package is expected to be announced in full by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad next Thursday (February 27).