Time ripe to reset economy – MASA
12 May 2020
The time is ripe for the government to reset the economy following the unprecedented new normal caused by COVID-19 through a strategic recovery plan to revive it and protect Malaysians, especially those who have lost their income during the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Institut Masa Depan Malaysia (MASA) chief executive officer Mohd Nizam Mahshar said the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) should be used as a national economic recovery plan to restart the economy as the impact of COVID-19 would have implications over the next two to five years.
He said the strategic plan should ensure that the Malaysian economy is crisis-proof while the income of Malaysians improved.
“With government resources that we have now, this is the best time for us to take a closer look at the economy as a whole. Even Minister in the Minister’s in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economic Affairs) commented that the 12MP might be reviewed.
“His comments were highly relevant as the national economic baseline and dynamics have changed, and even the global economy has changed,” he said at a discourse themed “Economic Recovery: Post-COVID-19” here today.
Mohd Nizam said COVID-19 had a significant impact on vulnerable groups representing 60 per cent of Malaysians earning about RM2,000 a month, as well as micro enterprises.
“(Ironically) The Malaysian economy is not adaptable to future economy and sustainability. For example, our high-technology consumption data compared to economic growth has fallen to eight per cent from 18 per cent.
“So are other data. (Use of high technology) in our manufacturing and services is still low, far below our aspirations when talking about the digital economy or industrial revolution 4.0,” he said.
Without the adaptability to future economy, he said Malaysia is now heavily reliant on foreign low-skilled workers.
He said it is important to keep the economy running at a minimal level and opening up the economy is a necessity.
“The reopening of the economy has already taken place. I was thinking it should have been earlier with proper standard operating procedures.
“The implication, for example small and medium enterprises. If they are unable to operate within two to three weeks or at least six weeks, they will run out of cash to do business,” he said.
Another panellist, economist Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram said Malaysia needs a comprehensive approach involving all ministries to drive the economy post COVID-19.
“Besides, people’s involvement is also very important in the development of the economy. (But) If we just direct the people, they will get bored and ignore what they were told,” he said.
Jomo said Malaysia needs to address the spread of COVID-19 among foreign workers by taking steps such as offering one-year employment permits to undocumented foreign workers to entice them to come forward for voluntary testing.
“They must be tested with the cost borne by the government. There is no need to burden employers by forcing them to pay for the tests in a short time. This issue should have been tackled much earlier.
“We ought to learn from Singapore’s mistakes in this regard. They did not take care of the problem confronting foreign workers. Foreign workers in Singapore have documents but are afraid to come forward if they are infected (COVID-19),” he said.