KUALA LUMPUR: UOB Malaysia Bhd expects the country’s economy to rebound to 6.0 per cent next year compared to its earlier estimate of 5.5 per cent as a result of government efforts to counter the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Senior economist Julia Goh said improved external demand conditions will be another significant contributor to the country’s recovery, report agencies.She said the government’s ongoing policy support through various fiscal packages, Budget 2021 measures and the cumulative interest rate cuts to date will provide impetus for the country’s recovery.
The potential of an effective COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, better-than-expected recovery of the global economy and Malaysia’s diversified economic fundamentals also point to a positive outlook for next year.
“In Budget 2021, the government has planned a sizeable spending of RM322.5 billion or 20.6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to help drive domestic demand and the multiplier effects of this spending will help boost further GDP growth.
“The budget is supported by additional measures such as cash assistance, tax cuts and reliefs, targeted loan and repayment assistance, cash advance from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Account 1 and a lower EPF (Employees Provident Fund) contribution rate by employees,” she said at the UOB Malaysia’s Economic Outlook 2021 online media briefing today.
Goh said another another potential growth catalyst is the progress of large infrastructure projects such as the third Mass Rail Transit (MRT3), East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), West Coast Expressway, National Digital Infrastructure Plan (JENDELA), Johor Bahru-Singapore Rail Transit System, and the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR).
“Moreover, the revival of the Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) refinery complex and the commencement of the Petronas Floating Liquefied Natural Gas-2 facility will augur well for investments.“We also expect that committed investments in the rubber, electrical and electronics and healthcare sectors will potentially drive growth next year,” she said.
However, Malaysia’s path to recovery will likely be uneven and dependent on the risks of any resurgent wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Asked whether further Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) extension will cost or impact the economy, Goh said although restrictions under the CMCO, which currently covers most of the country, are less stringent than before and allow economic activity to continue, they have affected business and consumer sentiments in the fourth quarter of this year.