Azmin says faced dilemma in deciding essential services list as Malaysia is key link in global supply chain

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali speaks during a press conference at the 37th Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur November 10, 2020. — Bernama pic
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali speaks during a press conference at the 37th Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur November 10, 2020. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 — The International Trade and Industry Ministry had to consider pressing global needs when determining which sectors should be considered essential under the movement control order (MCO), Datuk Seri Azmin Ali said.

In a retrospective of 2020 alongside Covid-19, the senior minister said policies on Malaysian firms could affect the global supply chain for essential items such as personal protective equipment, among others, that remain in heavy demand due to the pandemic.

He said this meant Miti and related agencies needed to formulate strategies to minimise the impact of the MCO both on the Malaysian economy and those that it supplied.

“This proved to be a major challenge on account of the fact that the economic value chain is deeply interlinked and highly complex. As Malaysia is an important player in the global supply chain, it was incumbent on us to ensure minimal disruption to the supplies of essential products such as rubber gloves, PPE, parts and components for medical devices.

“Above all, the government has to ensure that the people’s livelihoods are secured.

“Regular engagements were conducted with all stakeholders including Industry Associations and Chambers of Commerce on how best the Government could collaborate with the private sector in restarting, reviving and revitalising the economy,” he said.

Despite their best efforts in combating the outbreak some of their measures had caused “a host of unintended economic consequences to be unleashed”, severely restricting the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth last year, said Azmin.

“Thus, in the second quarter of 2020, Malaysia’s GDP suffered its worst-ever decline in our history, namely, a contraction to -17.1 per cent.

“Consequently, the government took the initiative to pump in a massive RM320 billion of stimulus packages not just to mitigate the adverse economic impact on the rakyat but also to jumpstart and revitalize the entire economy,” said Azmin, referring to the many initiatives under the Penjana and Prihatin stimulus packages which were announced by the government last year.

Azmin also stressed that the government’s overall priority following the announcement of the MCO last year was to balance between protecting lives and livelihoods.

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