PETALING JAYA: A projection that the number of jobless Malaysians would triple prompted the Federal Government to “restart” the economy, says Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of the economy said Bank Negara had projected the unemployment figure would reach 1.8 million from the current 520,000.
“So this means that the number of unemployed was projected to increase threefold.
“If we don’t get a hand on this issue, we will stand to lose RM2.4bil daily, as the Prime Minister has already disclosed, ” Mustapa said on TV3’s Malaysia Hari Ini programme aired yesterday.
The government has allowed almost all economic sectors and business activities to resume operations subject to standard operating procedure (SOP), from Monday.
Mustapa, however, explained that the decision to reopen the national economy did not mean that all businesses would operate at full capacity immediately.
“I am sure that not every business is operating at 100% capacity, but businesses need some direction on where they are heading.
“So when they have that direction in mind, they can open up in phases.
“Businesses are currently operating at 30% to 40% of their normal capacity, ” he said.
Describing the current health and economic crisis as “extraordinary”, Mustapa said the government needed to strike a balance between the people’s “lives and livelihood”.
The decision to open up the economy, the minister explained, was made after consulting many different stakeholders.
“There are some who say it is too soon, but that is their opinion. The government has already got the advice of the Health Ministry and we feel that it is time to look at the economy.
“Whatever aid that is offered (by the government) is only temporary, these are relief measures.
“In the long term, we will definitely have to go back to work, ” Mustapa said, adding that one had to consider the plight of daily wage earners.