KUALA LUMPUR, July 15 — The government has been asked to reveal the current account balance which will reveal whether Malaysia is now in a deficit or surplus position after the country’s income has been substantially reduced due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng (PH-Bagan) said it is important for the government to balance the country’s expenditure especially in times of crisis.
“In the first quarter of 2020, the country’s income declined about 29 per cent to RM45.3 billion and the fiscal deficit is expected to rise to six per cent,” he said during the debate on the motion of thanks to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong at the Dewan Rakyat today.
To soften the impact of Covid-19 outbreak, the government announced several stimulus packages, namely the RM250 billion Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (Prihatin), RM10 billion Prihatin Package for Small and Medium Enterprises (Additional Measures), and the RM35 billion National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana), to rebuild the local economy.
Lim also said that due to the extra expenditure and lower income, the government should also revise the 2020 budget.
Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz reportedly said earlier that the country would nearly double its fiscal deficit this year while keeping open the option of raising the public debt ceiling.
Amid the global uncertainties, global oil price benchmark Brent crude had also declined to below US$20 (RM85) per barrel at one point due to muted demand.
The country’s 2020 Budget was drafted on an assumed average oil price of US$62 per barrel.
Meanwhile, Lim also said that the government should consider extending the moratorium on bank loans by another six months to ensure that individuals and businesses could have a longer time to recalibrate their finances.
“This is because the economy is going through an unprecedented slowdown that has caused people to lose their jobs,” he said.
Meanwhile, Arau Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim urged the government to boost domestic investment to stimulate the local economy post- Covid-19, saying a similar measure was taken by the government during the financial crisis in 1998-1999.
“At this moment, private investment has declined, so it is important for the government to increase domestic investment,” he said. — Bernama