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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia must crank up its capacity for producing "critical products," Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said today.
He said the products include medical devices, medicines, petrochemicals, personal protective equipment like gloves and face masks, as well as products in the food and beverage sector.
"When the country has this capability, we can reduce the outflow of the Malaysian currency and increase the export of local products," he said when launching the national-level Mega Sales Programme and Buy Malaysian Products Campaign at Suria KLCC here, today.
Therefore, the government is studying and reviewing existing policies to reduce dependence on imported products and give priority to building the capacity of local industries to produce made in Malaysia products, he added.
The world, including Malaysia, has been grappling with the challenge of weak economic growth in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Small and medium enterprises (SME), medium-size companies and multinationals have faced difficulties in terms of cash flow and loss of or drop in customers," he added.
Muhyiddin said supply chains were also affected, especially for industries and the services sector which depend on raw materials, components and imports.
He said to help industries and SMEs overcome their cash flow problems, the government had introduced various incentives under the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (Prihatin) and the National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana).
The prime minister also said the marketing of products from local SMEs, especially at supermarkets and hypermarkets, had been encouraging with sales of RM667 million in 2019, a 307.6 per cent increase over the figure for 2015.
Meanwhile, he said most of the business community had adopted digital technology more widely following the Covid-19 outbreak.
In the first half of this year, 79,274 SMEs were reported to have used the e-commerce platform, he said.
"This figure exceeds the government's target of training 50,000 SMEs in a year," said Muhyiddin.
He said the Statistics Department had reported that online retail sales, which reflect the growth of e-commerce activities, had surged 39.3 per cent in May this year compared to May last year.
E-commerce activities had also grown 9.3 per cent compared to April this year, he said.