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Stimulus package No 2: Bigger, better

By Saturday February 28th, 2009 No Comments

The second stimulus package, which although is taking time to draft, will also be larger and more holistic.

Speaking at a press conference at the D-8 (Developing Eight) Ministers Meeting on Food Security at KL Hilton Hotel today, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said, “The stimulus packages in America have not shown any dividends yet. So, in view of the weakening and deepening crisis, the second stimulus package will have to be bigger and more comprehensive in nature.”

When pressed on why the mini-budget has not been tabled, he replied, “We have to go through the processes because first of all, it is not just the timing of the package but also ensuring that the package achieves its purpose.

“It is not a question of timing alone but what type of package it is, its size and more importantly, whether it is targeted and focused in the right way. That requires some time to work on.”

When asked if the second stimulus package would be sufficient to pull Malaysia out of a deepening financial crisis, the deputy premier said the government was cautiously hopeful.

“We will try to do our best, bearing in mind that there are other constraints because resources and budget deficits have to be taken into account as well.”

Meanwhile, today’s meeting, which was also attended by Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Mustapa Mohamed, was held to discuss ways to combat food shortages and price hikes in agricultural commodities in the region.

According to Najib, world prices of major agricultural commodities had soared due to high petroleum prices throughout the most of last year. Prices, however, fell sharply by the end of the year.

“While some commodity price levels have stabilised, over the medium to long term, food prices are expected to remain significantly higher than their 2004 levels, and this will pose a continuing global challenge.

“Adding on to the challenges, the world is now in the midst of a serious financial and economic crisis. This has again revived fears of food shortages and high prices.”

Bilateral co-operation

Najib added that the government has initiated bilateral co-operation with a number of countries as well as other necessary measures to mitigate the negative effects of volatile commodity prices and increase domestic food supply.

He added that the eradication of poverty and malnourishment would require robust programmes and plans to help farmers increase production, gain access to markets, credits, seeds, fertilisers and animal feed.

The deputy premier said in addition to promoting joint projects in the production of animal feed, fertiliser and the creation of seed banks, the meeting also discussed the implementation of the D-8 Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), which will result in mutually recognised standards for fertilisers and animal feed.

D-8 was established in 1997 to improve the positions of developing countries -Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Turkey – in the world economy. Malaysia is the current chairman of the bloc.

Source : Malaysiakini

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