PETALING JAYA: Budget 2022, which will be tabled in the parliament on Friday, is expected to remain expansionary, as the government seeks to support Malaysia’s economic growth.
This could imply an elevated level of fiscal deficit as well as higher federal debt next year.
According to Kenanga Research’s projection, the fiscal deficit could rise to 6.9% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022 from the estimated 6.2% of GDP this year.
The brokerage noted its projection for a higher fiscal deficit next year came amid higher Covid-19 fund and the need to accelerate growth recovery as well as an emergency fund for a potential 15th General Election.
“Fiscal stance to remain expansionary in an effort to bolster growth and aid economic recovery. Debt levels will continue rising to finance the expansionary budget, raising concerns about debt management in the medium-term,” Kenanga Research said.
However, it said, Budget 2022 could lay out measures to improve long-term fiscal sustainability. Kenanga Research said the federal government debt level could reach 64.5% of GDP by end-2021, compared with 62.2% last year, while the statutory debt level could breach the 60% level imminently.
Given the expansionary budget, the raising of the statutory debt limit, and a wider projected fiscal deficit, Kenanga Research forecast an increase in the federal government debt to 66.9% of GDP in 2022.
In terms of growth outlook, Kenanga Research said it expected the government to unveil a GDP growth forecast of between 5% and 6% for next year, representing an improvement from the projected 3% to 4% GDP growth in 2021.
This compared with its house GDP growth projection of 5.5% to 6% for 2022 against 3.5% to 4% for 2021.
Kenanga Research said the faster pace of growth projected for next year was in view of Malaysia advancing into an endemic phase, following the reopening of the country’s economy after experiencing a prolonged movement restriction order due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The 2022 government expenditure is expected to continue to focus on Covid-19 stimulus measures to speed up the drive to fully exit the pandemic phase,” it said.
As 2021 marks the first year of the 12th Malaysia Plan, total gross expenditure is projected to reach RM317.3bil, up from RM314bil in 2020. During the first half of 2021, the government has spent RM164.2bil, an increase of 5.7% year-on-year (y-o-y). Total expenditure is expected to moderate in the second half of 2021 in line with the budgeted plan approved for this year, Kenanga Research said.
The first-half performance was driven by an acceleration in development spending which surged 52.5% y-o-y to RM28.2bil, offsetting a drop in Covid-19 fund spending (-18.7% y-o-y). “We expect the government to re-focus on development spending given the likelihood there might be excess allocated funds spilling over the next fiscal year,” it said.
Meanwhile, the brokerage said as no new taxes were expected to be introduced in Budget 2022, the government might increase its tax revenue through increased tax compliance and raise its non-tax revenue by tapping into government-linked-institution funds.
It said the government was expected to increase bond issuances in 2022 to finance its expansionary budget, noting bond issuances would likely rise to a record high of RM180bil to RM185bil next year.