Bank Negara warns against pandemic complacency


KUALA LUMPUR: Complacency in managing the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to resurgences and consequently the reimposition of strict containment measures, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said.

She said there remains significant uncertainty surrounding the evolution and trajectory of the pandemic even with the signs of economic recovery and the global rollout of vaccines.

"As 2020 recedes into the rear-view mirror, the worst may be behind us. However, the road ahead will not be without bumps," the central bank governor said in the BNM Annual Report 2020 released here today.

New COVID-19 cases in Malaysia rose back to four digits when 1,133 infections were reported on Tuesday. Five fatalities were also reported over the same 24-hour period, bringing the death toll to 1,265.

A total of 1,148 recoveries were reported yesterday, bringing the cumulative total of recovered cases to 344,018 while active cases stood at 14,199.

Furthermore, Nor Shamsiah said uneven economic recovery and scarring in some sectors would also weigh on the future growth potential of the economy.

"Given this uncertainty in the strength of economic recovery, the thrust of our monetary policy in 2021 will remain accommodative to support an entrenched and sustained recovery," she said.

Meanwhile, she stressed that the ability of the financial sector to extend support last year was a testament to the importance of building buffers and ensuring the strength and resiliency of the financial system, especially during good times.

Last year, the central bank reduced the overnight policy rate to the lowest level in the country's history to ensure adequate liquidity and orderly market conditions.

It also introduced debt relief measures as well as funding programmes for small and medium enterprises to help affected businesses to alleviate cash flow constraints.

Nor Shamsiah said the central bank will remain steadfast in delivering its mandates with the highest standards of professionalism and integrity, apply sound judgement and duty of care in the operation.

"Even as the economy recovers from the pandemic, we are not completely out of the woods. In this environment of heightened uncertainty, there is no room for complacency," she said. - Bernama:
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