Guan Eng: Tengku Zafrul’s insistence on 7.5pc GDP recovery amid MCO 3.0 unrealistic

DAP Secretary General Lim Guan Eng speaks to the press at a press conference in Wisma DAP, George Town March 8, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
DAP Secretary General Lim Guan Eng speaks to the press at a press conference in Wisma DAP, George Town March 8, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 12 — Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng today criticised his successor Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz for being overly optimistic of the local economy recovering amidst yet another movement control order (MCO).

The DAP secretary-general suggested that Tengku Zafrul’s adamance on Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanding up to 7.5 per cent in 2021 was an unrealistic projection and a view that many citizens would disagree with.

Lim claimed that the local GDP would need to see an expansion of up to 10 per cent for the next three quarters of the year for numbers to achieve Tengku Zafrul’s projection, a feat that will be hampered by the implementation of the latest MCO.

Lim also pointed out how Perikatan Nasional’s Budget 2021, when tabled last year, had banked on economic recovery in the first quarter of this year, but a recent survey by financial daily Bloomberg reported that a GDP contraction of 0.5 per cent this first quarter would make such a recovery difficult.

“Whether a growth of 10 per cent for the next three quarters is feasible remains to be seen when a new MCO 3.0 has been imposed from May 12 to 7 June 2021.

“Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz is overly optimistic, and therefore unrealistic when he said that MCO 3.0 will have no significant economic impact and maintains the 7.5 per cent projected GDP growth.

“Many in the tourism or retail sectors, including Bazar Ramadan traders, would angrily disagree with Tengku Zafrul. Does this mean that there are no financial or economic measures forthcoming to help the rakyat?” Lim said in a statement today.

Lim also called for transparency from the government on how the supposed RM622 billion was spent on various economic stimulus packages, saying such an amount would translate to at least RM19,000 in benefits being enjoyed by every single Malaysian.

He said the government should provide yet another economic stimulus package to benefit the people in need directly, unlike those in the Top-20 bracket, like providing loan moratoriums, job creation programs, incentive payments to employers, distribution of laptops to accelerate digitalisation.

Lim also rubbished Tengku Zafrul’s assertion that the National Covid-19 Immunisation Program would also spur the economic recovery, saying the slow pace of inoculation makes the government’s target of achieving 80 per cent herd immunity by December this year almost impossible.

“The reality is that the vaccination rate is painstakingly slow with less than one million Malaysians, or only three per cent have received at least one vaccine dose.

“At its current pace, it would take a minimum of three years to provide at least one dose to 80 per cent of the population,” Lim said.

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