SEREMBAN: The government must explain if it is still confident of registering 4.8% economic growth for 2020 following below-par performance in the last quarter of 2019, says Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.
The Umno deputy president said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng still sounded overly optimistic when he actually got the growth forecast for 2019 wrong on two occasions.
"What is even more worrying is that our economy will also be impacted by the outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
"Is the Pakatan Harapan government still too optimistic for 2020, with Bank Negara saying that the growth for the last quarter of 2019 was the lowest since the 2009 financial crisis," he said in a statement on Wednesday (Feb 12).
He was responding to a statement by central bank governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus who said Malaysia's economy grew by 3.6% in the fourth quarter of 2019 (4Q 2019) which is the slowest since the third quarter of 2009.
Mohamad said the estimated growth of 4.9% for 2019 announced by Lim when tabling Budget 2019 was way lower than the actual growth of 4.3% announced by Nor Shamsiah.
"Lim got it wrong again as he had forecast the 2019 growth to be 4.7% when tabling Budget 2020. This only goes to show that the Finance Minister does not have the ability to realistically and objectively forecast the country's growth. He seems to be overly optimistic," said Mohamad.
Mohamad said due to this, initiatives under Budget 2019 could not be effectively carried out due to a shortfall in government revenue.
He added that this also means that the people will not get all the goodies promised during the tabling of the Budget.
Mohamad also asked how the government plans to stimulate the commodities market, particularly for palm oil and rubber.
He said this was important as the central bank had attributed the lower-than-expected growth for the last quarter of 2019 to a fall in the production of palm oil, crude oil and natural gas, among other reasons.
"So, will the rural folk who rely mainly on commodities be subjected to more suffering with the cost of living continuing to rise," he asked.
Mohamad said questions also have to be asked on why the National Economic Action Council, which was set up to stimulate and boost the economy, has not been able to improve the situation.
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