Survey: Bumi least downbeat about economy, Chinese most grim

Despite their forecast, the ethnic Chinese were more confident about their spending power during the last quarter of 2017, whereas the Bumiputera community felt theirs was weakest. — Reuters pic
Despite their forecast, the ethnic Chinese were more confident about their spending power during the last quarter of 2017, whereas the Bumiputera community felt theirs was weakest. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 — A recent survey has revealed that Bumiputeras were the least pessimistic about Malaysia’s economic outlook for the first three months of 2018, while the ethnic Chinese were the most gloomy.

Despite their forecast, the ethnic Chinese were more confident about their spending power during the last quarter of 2017, whereas the Bumiputera community felt theirs was weakest.

The Economic Confidence Survey for the fourth quarter of 2017 by the Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) released yesterday found that while 56 per cent of the Bumiputeras were pessimistic about the economy, 79 per cent of the Chinese felt that way.

The ethnic Indians have the highest proportion of those with faith in the national economy relative to the Bumiputeras and Chinese, with 18 per cent of them reporting confidence.

The MTEM survey further demonstrated that the Chinese were more confident than the Bumiputeras about their ability to spend on essential and non-essential goods.

However, the Bumiputeras felt more job security and held a more positive outlook about their salaries and income growth.

“The results for Bumiputera is almost identical with the nationwide results due to the fact Bumiputera make up more than two-thirds of Malaysia’s population.

“The economic confidence of the Bumiputera can be taken as a proxy for the economic confidence at the national level and vice versa,” MTEM said.

The overall economic confidence score for Malaysians was ranked as “poor”, at 28.6.

The score comprises two components: present score for that quarter, and the future score for the next quarter — which were 27.3 and 31.2 — showing that Malaysians were slightly more optimistic about the first quarter of 2018 than the last quarter of 2017.

In an accompanying statement, MTEM chief executive Ahmad Yazid Othman urged Putrajaya to take five drastic actions in order to recover public confidence.

The steps were providing profitable job opportunities, increasing minimum wage, minimising the amount of new foreign workers, hiking aid to farmers and fishermen, and slashing public transportation charges.

“I feel that part of the solutions were already stated in Budget 2018. So, we hope that everything that has been planned be implemented as soon as possible so the people can feel the effect of economic gains by this quarter,” he said.

The MTEM survey was done with the collaboration of research firm Kajidata, covering 1,379 respondents over 20 years old distributed across all 222 Parliamentary seats.

It was done over telephone between December 22 and 31 last year.

The confidence score was calculated based on six aspects: confidence towards essential spending, non-essential spending, maintaining jobs and earnings, enjoying higher earnings, financial strength, and national economy.

The survey results were shared just as Bank Negara Malaysia reported a full-year gross domestic product (GDP) expansion of 5.9 per cent for 2017.

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