Despite pandemic, Malaysia aims for high growth in new economic plan

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Malaysia’s government hopes economic growth can rebound from the worst of the pandemic to more than 5 per cent a year, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Monday, as he announced the latest version of an official five-year blueprint.

“Malaysia also has not been spared from the effects of the pandemic,” the prime minister said, tabling the 12th Malaysia Plan in parliament.

Malaysia’s economy, South-East Asia’s third-wealthiest, measured per capita, shrank by more than 5 per cent last year, with much of the damage done during a second quarter pandemic lockdown.

Ismail Sabri’s government took office around a month ago and holds a slender four-seat majority. Predecessor Muhyiddin Yassin was forced to step down after coronavirus numbers increased five-fold despite another punishing lockdown.

Before relinquishing control, Muhyiddin’s government cut the 2021 growth forecast to between 3-4 per cent after a third lockdown led to reduced factory output. Carmakers in Europe were forced into production cuts due to shortages of components usually sourced in Malaysia.

Ismail Sabri said his government hopes to reduce reliance on low-wage foreign workers, who mainly work in manufacturing and agriculture, and increase the weight of the digital economy to around 25 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

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