KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 (Bernama) — The government today unveiled its second economic stimulus package totalling RM60 billion, comprising initiatives and ideas to invigorate vital sectors to maintain the people’s welfare and prosperity in the face of the global economic downturn.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, when tabling the package in the Dewan Rakyat, said it would be implemented over two years — 2009 and 2010 — and would have four thrusts.
These were reducing unemployment and increasing employment opportunities; easing the burden of the people, in particular the vulnerable groups; assisting the private sector in facing the crisis; and building capacity for the future, he said.
Najib said the government would continue to implement appropriate measures to strengthen the confidence of the people and ease the burden, particularly of the vulnerable groups.
“In view of the deteriorating global economy, the Second Stimulus Package is significantly larger and more comprehensive, encompassing various economic sectors and target groups.
“This includes workers, consumers, investors, small and medium businesses, exporters and unemployed graduates,” he said.
Najib, while being open about the severity of the global economic prospects, said he was confident that Malaysia would be able to face this difficult and challenging environment with the spirit of unity among the people, just as the country had successfully overcome several crises in the past.
He said Malaysia could not depend on orthodox economic recovery policies, but must be bold in formulating innovative approaches to deal with the crisis.
“There have been increasing calls by the people for the government and the opposition to set aside political differences and focus on the economy.
“I personally acknowledge these calls and, therefore, urge all parties, from the government and opposition to focus on the economy and the people,” he said, inviting the opposition to work together in the effort.
“There are high hopes, when faced with an economic storm, for us to always work together and think of doing the best for the people,” he said.
Najib announced the package, regarded as a mini budget, when tabling the Supplementary Supply Bill 2009 for second reading in the Dewan Rakyat.
On Nov 4 last year, the government announced the First Stimulus Package totalling RM7 billion which, according to Najib, was being actively implemented and RM6.5 billion of which had been channelled to projects.
The second package also gives special focus to the people of Sabah and Sarawak, particularly in the provision of infrastructure for which RM1.2 billion is to be allocated to increase economic activities.
Projects and programmes to be implemented in Sarawak include the expansion of the Sibu Airport, deepening works at Miri Port, repair and improvement of infrastructure damaged by floods and upgrading of schools.
In Sabah, the main programmes and projects to be implemented include the Kota Kinabalu Electricity Transmission System, upgrading of schools, roads and bridges, and resolving issues related to health services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
In his speech of an hour and 15 minutes, Najib acknowledged that Malaysia now faced an extremely challenging economic environment in the context of the difficult global economic scenario, and said that the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was expected to be in the range of negative one per cent to one per cent for 2009.
Najib said that though developed countries had announced large economic stimulus packages exceeding US$3 trillion, including substantial amounts to bail out their financial institutions and large corporations, these measures had yet to restore consumer and investor confidence.
He said the United States, the world’s largest economy and trading nation, was expected to experience a contraction of 1.6 per cent, the United Kingdom 2.8 per cent, Japan 2.6 per cent, South Korea negative two per cent, Taiwan negative four per cent and Singapore negative 4.9 per cent.
“In fact, Singapore’s Minister Mentor (Lee Kuan Yew) envisaged that Singapore’s economy might contract 10 per cent this year,” he said.
Source : Bernama