PUTRAJAYA: The Government will announce an economic package this week that will focus on shifting strategies for wealth creation through new sources of growth.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the Government hoped to announce the package in “one or two days” but it is widely speculated that he will make the announcement tomorrow.
Speaking to reporters after chairing the 2004 Budget Dialogue here, Dr Mahathir, who is also Finance Minister, said the government was currently at the final stage of preparing for the new strategies, which would help to strengthen the country’s economy.
“There will be more strategies shifting in this package. You have to learn to strategise to shift your focus, to find new areas of growth.
“It is not just saying anything you want to do, you must have incentives from the government.
“The government needs money. We cannot afford to give away our money ... that becomes the private sector’s money. There is no increase in wealth that way,” he added.
Asked on the gross domestic product forecast this year, Dr Mahathir said he expected the GDP this year to be lower than Bank Negara’s 4.5% growth forecast made earlier.
However, he said, the GDP growth this year was expected to be still higher than “what was achieved in 2002.”
“We worked very hard in order to achieve this quite remarkable rate of growth last year, considering the problems Malaysia faced,” Dr Mahathir said.
Asked whether there would be a cut in interest rates, he said: “I don’t know. We are listening to your views, we will study the various proposals.”
Like last year, the dialogue comprised four sessions; with Session One yesterday involving discussions on the country’s macro-economic issues. Session Two today will involve discussions with representatives from various important sectors of the economy and the industries.
Session Three (on June 9) and Session Four (June 10) would involve discussions with social groups, Mentris Besar and Chief Ministers and the Government’s supporters' clubs.
In his keynote address at the first session, Dr Mahathir said the theme “Mitigating Destabilising External Environment and Ensuring Sustainable Growth” had been chosen for the 2004 Budget, taking into account the uncertainties in the current political, global economic and international trade conditions.
He said: “We hope to obtain more new ideas during the pre-budget dialogue sessions in the process of preparing for the new Budget strategies to be presented this September.
“Hopefully, there will not be too many requests for further tax cuts.”