Unrestricted thoughts

  • Economy
  • Friday, 27 Mar 2020

Shedding jobs now is the worst thing that can happen.

WE will see today the government announce its largest ever stimulus package. The sum, which judging by the RM100bil loan moratorium and other previous announcements, will be a huge headline number but that is no different than what other countries have proposed.

The US is going to pass its US$2 trillion stimulus package and Singapore, in an election year, is putting forth a US$33bil stimulus package, which will see it tap its reserves for just the second time.

The staggering sums of money being ploughed into economies is understandable. Some countries have the ability to print money and they are doing just that to flood cash into the economies.

The idea is to reflate the real economy up again, put cash in the pockets of the people and help companies manage their cashflow and losses as much as possible to avoid job cuts.

Help households and SMEs must be the focus, as it was already hinted with the loan moratorium.

Shedding jobs now is the worst thing that can happen.

It will debilitate an economy and the scary thing is what the forecasts are globally if nothing is done. Essentially, countries are staring at unemployment numbers at a speed reached like never before.

For Malaysia, the essence of the stimulus will be the same. Cash and jobs. But the pressing issue after the number of new cases topped 200 for the first time is to plug that increase.

The Health Ministry is working hard to do so and it needs all the help and support. Increasing testing to 20,000 a day is a sound plan as wide-scale testing has allowed South Korea to keep its economy running and limit the spread of the disease.

Carving the sick out of the general population into quarantine and hospitalisation will allow the healthy workers to return to work. The faster that is done, the better it will be for everyone and the economy.

The sick can then receive the treatment they need without waiting for symptoms to manifest into an advance stage, which makes it tougher for a fast recovery.

But in terms of stimulating the economy, what the government has said recently appears to be the best prescription. Budget 2020 is the largest expansionary budget on record for Malaysia and the key thing here is to front-load those projects and development plans as fast as possible.

Money needs to be put to work to get the results quickly.

The question now is finding the money but there are vast resources in the private sector.

Making that money work has to be done in conjunction with increased testing for full benefit but another aspect needs to be looked at.

The government should look at cutting regulation as much as possible to get things moving faster. That has worked before but red tape and bureaucracy is now the enemy of time.

The faster things get moving, the better it is. That means ministries, state governments and local councils have all got to be on the same page. This is not a time for politics but nationalism. The very fabric of Malaysia is at stake.

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