PETALING JAYA: The social and economic costs of the recent haze must be calculated, said former International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz (pic).
"The haze will be an annual nuisance, but the economic and social costs must be calculated in the event we need to make accountable those who are responsible for the environmental hazard," said Rafidah in a Facebook post on Sunday.
She added that the haze would have had an impact on the economy in terms of productivity and opportunity losses.
"The haze has forced schools to close intermittently, disrupting classes and exam schedules..And many outdoor programmes have also had to be curtailed or cancelled altogether and its negative impact on health and well-being certainly is significant," said Rafidah.
She added that another factor currently affecting the Malaysian economy was the current currency situation.
"The currency situation is still a hot topic of conversation in many quarters because of not only the volatility but also the impact of the weakening of the Malaysian Ringgit against other currencies," said Rafidah.
She added that while some sectors will benefit from a weaker Ringgit, other sectors that require imports from other countries such as hardware and the health sector will be affected.
"Perhaps the Ministries and the central agencies can undertake in-house studies to ascertain the costs to the nation, as a result of the Haze, the currency volatility and other issues impacting business confidence and investment into the Malaysian economy," said Rafidah.
Rafidah added that feedback from the private sector as to the impact of the haze and currency volatility can help to formulate measures to help them ride out the current economic situation.
"Private sector driven economic growth can move the nation forward as planned," she said.
She also pointed out that the annual budget will be tabled before Parliament soon.
"It is hoped that there will be focus on issues that impact upon the nation's productivity, on operating and development expenditure in an unpredictable economic environment," said Rafidah.
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