KUALA LUMPUR: Programmes under Budget 2009 and the RM7bil stimulus package must preferably take off by the first quarter of next year.
Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said it was important for the programmes, which were introduced to reinforce the economy, to be implemented soon.
“Right now, that’s our priority,”Â he told reporters yesterday after attending the Economic Council meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, at Parliament House.
Najib said the Government would introduce several measures to insulate the country’s economy from the global financial crisis.
Among them were making structural changes to encourage better and competitive economic growth, encouraging more investments from the private sector in the local economy and implementing progressive liberalisation of the services sector.
To a question, Najib said the Govern-ment would only come up with additional stimulus packages if the situation warranted them.
“We have the capacity to make capital injections, but at the same time we cannot allow the Government’s fiscal deficit to become too high,” he added.
Najib said more effort would also be made to encourage additional foreign direct investments in certain economic sectors and sub-sectors.
He said the meeting also decided that more skilled or knowledge workers were needed, especially for the main growth corridors.
Earlier when addressing the inaugural Asean Infrastructure Financing Mechanism Conference, Najib said Asean was inviting the private sector and multilateral organisations to assist in implementing and developing infrastructure projects, which were essential in accelerating the region’s economic growth.
He said the Asean Finance Ministers were inviting the private sector to engage with the Asean Infrastructure Financing Mechanism (AIFM) Task Force set up to facilitate the establishment of the best frameworks and mechanisms to attract greater private sector participation and investment.
Malaysia chairs the task force.
Abdullah, in his welcoming speech to the Economic Council, said Malaysia was not completely insulated although it had strong macro-economic fundamentals and a resilient banking and financial system.
He said that while the stimulus package announced by Najib last week was a short-term policy response, the Government believed it should also take the opportunity to address medium and long-term structural issues and formulate a strategic package to ensure rapid growth of the economy.
Source : The Star