Tengku Zafrul: Upcoming budget to reinforce current economic momentum

by NURUL SUHAIDI / pic TMR File

BUDGET 2023 will be forward-looking, inclusive and prioritise reinforcing the momentum of the current economic recovery.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said the budget, which will be tabled this Friday (Oct 7), will be pro-investment, pro-development, pro-environment, pro-empowerment, and most importantly, pro-people.

He added that the focus for the budget area is also to advance the agenda of inclusive and sustainable development, similar to what has been implemented in the previous budgets.

Tengku Zafrul reiterated that Malaysia is still resilient and competitive in terms of economics and has better footing today, despite the global implications that will affect the growth trajectory.

“Evidently, the GDP has increased for three consecutive quarters, namely 3.6% in the fourth quarter of 2021 (4Q21); 5.0% in 1Q22 and, most recently 8.9% in 2Q22.

“We anticipate an equally strong 3Q growth and are confident that we will meet or even exceed the official 2022 GDP projection of 5.3% to 6.3%,” he said during his closing remarks of the Khazanah Megatrends Forum on Tuesday.

He added that the Finance Ministry has also made good progress in implementing the reform policy to address the structural issue including widening the social safety for the self-employed and housewives.

“The introduction of National Investment Aspirations as a basis for reforms of investment policy was also done to uplift the country’s competitiveness in the global markets.

“This is done through putting the focus area on fostering coherence, creating high-value jobs, and improving inclusivity,” he added.

Looking at the current economic headwinds, he suggested three ways for Malaysians, especially corporates, to prepare better against the calamities and geopolitical tension that will impact the country in the future.

This includes securing food and energy, and considering the solutions to Asia’s economic reliance on the US dollar as it can have an adverse effect in the long run given the market uncertainty.

In addition, as the country moves toward institutionalising environmental, social and governance (ESG), he encouraged businesses to find an optimal balance between advancing green transition and securing near-term growth.

“However, in efforts to make the country carbon-neutral by 2050 for example, the transition will disrupt the labour market, infrastructure and geographic landscape significantly.

“To that end, there will be various ESG-related measures in the upcoming Budget 2023 to support corporate Malaysia’s endeavours to make our business ecosystem not only more vibrant and resilient, but also equitable,” he added.

Meanwhile, for industries such as electrical and electronic, commodities, oil and gas, rubber gloves, medical devices and electric vehicles, Malaysia needs to identify the desired verticals and develop them properly.

“This will be not just a source of economic benefits in terms of investments and jobs, but also a glue that binds us together and a hedge against global uncertainties and supply chain disruptions stemming from geopolitical tensions outside Asean,” he concluded.