More economic sectors where Covid-19 cases are heavily reported will be allowed to reopen to keep Malaysia’s economy afloat, said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
This, however, will be with stricter standard operating procedures (SOPs) as 10% of cluster areas contribute to more than 85% of the positive cases in the country.
“The government will take a more targeted approach by implementing stricter Movement Control Orders (MCOs) at infected cluster locations,” he said during a special address in conjunction with his one-year premiership of the country yesterday.
Although the SOPs have been relaxed to allow businesses to fully operate, movement restrictions and international border control are still imperative to keep Malaysia’s level of infection rate down, Muhyiddin said.
“Strict action will be taken against those who are found not complying with the rules to ensure economic activities and livelihoods of the people, as well as businesses are safeguarded.
Although the economic activities are allowed to open up, movement control is still needed, including the control of international borders and interstate travel, and social and business activities where social distancing is not feasible are prohibited.
“Such activities can only resume after the coverage of Malaysia’s immunisation reaches a certain level,” he added.
After a year of economic turmoil, Muhyiddin said the government is determined to push for a more vigorous economy and drive for recovery this year to safeguard the wellbeing of Malaysians.
He added that investors’ confidence in the Malaysian market has remained strong, particularly from foreign investors based on the RM23.1 billion investment recorded in the bond market as of August 2020.
Net foreign investment into Malaysia has also charted an improvement, rising from RM2.2 billion in the second quarter of 2020 to RM6.1 billion in the final quarter of last year.
“Among the factors that support foreign investors’ confidence are the government’s active efforts to engage with existing investors and understand industries’ needs during the MCO.
“The efforts to attract additional and new investments are in full swing. The ringgit has emerged as one of the strongest currencies in South-East Asia driven by the ongoing government and private initiatives in recovering the economy and tackling the pandemic,” Muhyiddin said.
Malaysia has also shown an upswing in the economic situation as the country’s GDP growth improved from a contraction of 28.7% in April last year to only 1.7% last December.
To further stimulate economic activities on a global scale, Muhyiddin said the government is planning to extend the business travel arrangement, namely the Reciprocal Green Lane, with interested countries after a deal was successfully secured with Singapore.
He added that among the countries that are in the pipeline to establish such partnership are China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Vietnam.
“In facilitating Malaysia’s economic recovery efforts, the government will continue its comprehensive efforts to create a travel bubble with potential countries, an important move to reactivate bilateral trade and investment co-operations.
“At the regional level, the formation of the Asean Travel Corridor Arrangement through the Asean Declaration will help facilitate intra-Asean travel, which could be used to reactivate trades, tourism activities and other related services that have been affected by the pandemic,” he said.
Meanwhile, as the pandemic left its mark on employment in the country, another 14,273 retrenched individuals were reported this year up until Feb 21, in addition to the 107,024 individuals reported last year.
“To overcome the problem of retrenchment and unemployment, the government has established the National Employment Council (NEC), which is the highest body in policymaking, strategy setting and monitoring of job creation,” he said.
This year, NEC aims to provide 500,000 job opportunities for Malaysians through the Social Security Organisation’s programmes and the government’s employment online platform, the MYFutureJobs portal.
Throughout last year, a total of 161,603 job seekers were placed in new jobs and as of Feb 26 this year, another 25,648 people were added to the list.