National Budget Office: Safer to open economy in stages

Johan said it was impossible for Malaysia to succeed in the National Recovery Plan if COVID-19 cases were to continue to remain high.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is confident that the reopening of the economic sector in phases under the National Recovery Plan (PPN) is much safer and more stable despite realising that the implementation of full movement restrictions has affected the people.

National Budget Office director Datuk Johan Mahmood Merican said the wide and rapid reopening of the economic sector would only contribute to a surge in COVID-19 cases.

"The increase in positive COVID-19 cases will not help the country's economy to return to normality in a short time.

"Hence, the government must continue to implement full movement restrictions (to curb COVID-19)," he said in an interview on Bernama TV’s Ruang Bicara programme themed "National Recovery Plan: Economic Sector Sustainability” last night.

The National Recovery Plan, unveiled by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin recently, is an exit strategy to transition out of the COVID-19 crisis, covering four phases and transition of the movement control order phases in stages.

Johan said it was impossible for Malaysia to succeed in the National Recovery Plan if COVID-19 cases were to continue to remain high.

"The approach taken in the plan is that each phase is made gradually based on three threshold value indicators.

"The threshold value can be achieved via the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme, with the rakyat getting vaccinated and adopting a healthy lifestyle while abiding by the standard operating procedures," he said.

Johan said the inability to reach the set threshold value would cause the country to be slow in undergoing the phase transition, which in turn, would affect the economic sector.

"If fail to reach 60 per cent herd immunity, we cannot move to the last phase. Thus, it is our shared responsibility to ensure that the country can achieve the target.

"What is very important, all of us are making the efforts... the government, the rakyat, the private sector striving to reduce the COVID-19 chain. Take the vaccine... the cases go down, the level of health becomes strong and we achieve herd immunity to enable us to return to normality, ” he said. - Bernama

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