Vaccination key to National Recovery Plan

Alliance Bank Malaysia chief economist Manokaran Mottain said “things will improve significantly” if the rate of vaccinations could be ramped up.

PETALING JAYA: The success of Malaysia’s National Recovery Plan will hinge on the country’s nationwide vaccination programme and how quickly it can bring down the number of daily Covid-19 cases.

The National Recovery Plan, which was announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday, is a four-phase exit strategy from the Covid-19 crisis that tentatively lasts until the end of 2021.

Economists have cautioned that the government could miss its gross domestic product (GDP) target of between 6% and 7.5% for this year if the Covid-19 crisis is not abated as soon as possible.

Alliance Bank Malaysia chief economist Manokaran Mottain said “things will improve significantly” if the rate of vaccinations could be ramped up.

“Given the long timeline of the National Recovery Plan until the end of the year, it might prove challenging for the government to achieve its GDP target for 2021, ” he told StarBiz.

Manokaran noted that the country loses an estimated RM1bil daily due to the implementation of the current movement control order (MCO).

“I expect the current lockdown to last another month or two and by then, the damage to the economy will be tremendous.

“Lives and livelihood are of the utmost importance here and the government’s initiatives show that it is not giving up, ” he said.

AmBank Group chief economist Anthony Dass (pic, above) meanwhile said the speed of economic recovery will depend on three major indicators, namely, the number of daily Covid-19 infections; the capability of the public healthcare system based on the bed utilisation rate in intensive care unit wards; and the speed of vaccination.

“Such a clear dashboard allows both the public and businesses as well as investors to be able to more easily monitor the outcome of these three major indicators.

“This would definitely reduce the level of uncertainties and would allow better management of one’s livelihood and business planning, ” he said.

In his special address, Muhyiddin said there were four phases for the National Recovery Plan, with phase two of the MCO seeing the reopening of the economy in phases, where 80% of the workforce would be allowed back in workplaces.

Phase two will begin once 10% of the population receives both Covid-19 vaccination doses.

The government will consider moving on to phase three of the National Recovery Plan where all economic sectors can reopen (except for high-risk activities) if the country manages to lower the number of daily cases to below 2, 000.

Muhyiddin said the country would enter phase four of the National Recovery Plan once daily Covid-19 cases dip below 500 per day and 60% of the population have been fully vaccinated with two vaccine doses.

He said based on estimates of the implementation of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Plan, this can be achieved as early as the end of October this year.

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