The world has got their stimulus hoses out to put out the liquidity fires that have engulfed markets and economies throughout the globe.
With unprecedented sums of cash being channelled to save economies, governments are scrambling to prevent their economies from crashing.
What is expected now is a global recession. The IMF has forecast that and on Friday, Bank Negara will reveal its economic outlook and prognosis for the Malaysian economy. While the government is busy tackling the crisis caused by Covid-19, there should be room to consider what needs to be done post crisis. Its devastation will be felt throughout the demand and supply parts of the economy and a rebuild will be in order.
The rebuilding is what we should also start paying attention to. During the Asian Financial Crisis, Malaysia charted its own direction against the uniform prescription dished out by the IMF to other affected countries. One of the reasons why we did not follow suit was that the social pain would have been too great. Malaysia enjoyed a V-shape recovery then while other countries laboured through structural and societal changes. Eventually they too bounced back but some will say the measures and pain they endured put their economies on a stronger footing.
We should have instituted structural changes in hindsight but the bounty of the recovery made us take our eyes off what may have been needed. In time, that was forgotten but the past few years showed us the need for a shake-up in Malaysia. The Shared Prosperity Vision is a grand overarching plan for the next decade, but in between, maybe Malaysia should examine what needs to be done post the Covid-19 crisis.
Maybe we do not need a Marshall Plan that rebuilt war-torn Europe but there are certainly opportunities we can exploit and take advantage of to improve business conditions in Malaysia.The Covid-19 crisis has shown us the importance of science. The extent to which the world’s scientists and high-tech pharmaceutical companies are engaged in finding a cure and vaccine should be used to spur interest in the sciences among school going children.
Interest in Stem education is a crisis for our education system and examples of how science has been galvanised to bring about rapid solutions should be used to encourage our children that there is a future is the sciences. Then there is agriculture. Food security is important and with news flow increasing about how countries are stopping exports of food should be grounds to see us act fast in that respect. A move in lifting agriculture as a means of job creation should be akin to the Felda plan. State governments may be more receptive to opening up agriculture land or maybe even allowing for the switch of oil palm plantation into the food crop business for job creation and food security.
After all, our food bill for importation of food items is nearly as large as our exports of palm oil products overseas.
And there is a lot of money to be made from just import substitution of food. Then there is housing. One developer said the government should hire private developers to help build public housing on a national scale.
The scarcity of affordable homes is a sore point and here, the government can hire private developers to build affordable homes at a fixed price. A lot of waivers to fees and other charges that go to the states would need to be forgone, but having private developers keep their capacity occupied with little margin to be made would be a way of getting affordable housing off the ground fast. The developer said it would be much better than the failed Prima scheme.