,It is no longer a choice but a must-take re-transformation. Strong political conviction is needed and all stakeholders are committed towards making a total national reset to secure a better future for all Malaysians.
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THE worst is likely behind us, thanks to the expected global recovery and vaccine rollout in major advanced economies. Revived exports and private sector’s domestic demand set to turn around the Malaysian economy in 2021.
Bank Negara’s Economic and Monetary Review has painted a rosy picture as it expects domestic economic growth (real GDP) to stage a strong rebound of 6%-7.5% in 2021, after succumbing to a recession of 5.6% in 2020. This marks the strongest expansion since the 2008-2009 Global Financial Crisis when the economy expanded by 7.4% in 2010.
The projected strong economic rebound is largely aided by the extremely “low base” effects last year as sales, revenue and output were either have declined by at least 50%-80% or some sectors even have zero revenue due to the restricted movement and opening of economic sectors.
Hence, it is unsurprisingly to see sizeable base effects in the second quarter of 2021, as pent-up demand and a pick in final demand as well as factories running at 70%-80% capacity rate would result in a sharp rebound in GDP growth on a year-on-year comparison. This explains why Bank Negara is confident that the GDP will achieve pre-pandemic level by mid-2021.
All economic sectors are expected to return to the black, backed by strong external demand, especially riding on the technology upcycle and better commodity prices as well as revived manufacturing production of both domestic and export-oriented industries. The construction sector also will rebound as the pandemic-induced disruptions subside, and underpinned by ongoing public transportation and highway projects as well as the implementation of RM5bil *** all-scale projects.
The ongoing national immunisation programme holds the key to lift a sustained revival in consumer sentiment. Some travel and touri *** -related sub-services sectors would recover gradually and may take a longer while to fully restore their growth traction, depending on a complete lifting of inter-state travel restriction and the reopening of Malaysia’s international borders to travellers and tourists.
Bank Negara sees consumer spending roaring back to increase by 8% in 2021 (-4.3% in 2020), lifted by pent-up demand and consumption booster measures such as the EPF withdrawals, cash handout as well as the drawdown of savings accumulated in 2020. An estimated RM53bil excess savings at end-2020 may translate into pent-up demand while some could be for precautionary savings in times of weaker employment and income prospects.
But we caution that the challenging labour market conditions, with unemployment rate staying elevated at 4.6% in 2021 (4.5% in 2020) would likely weigh on consumer-facing sectors. In addition, the wearing-off effect of consumption-fuelled catalysts would pull the brake on consumer spending towards the year-end and in 2022.