PM, Hamzah clash briefly over GDP growth and 'basic economics'

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's wrap-up of the 12th Malaysia Plan mid-term review got off to a heated start in the Dewan Rakyat as he and Opposition leader Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin squabbled briefly over "basic economics".

This came about when Anwar, who is also Finance Minister, disputed that the 8.7% gross domestic product (GDP) growth recorded by Malaysia last year was the country's best showing to date.

This was because of the low base from the preceding years, he said, noting that the national economy contracted by 5.5% in 2020 and rebounded with a growth of 3.1% in 2021.

"I am not denying that Malaysia's GDP grew by 8.7%. But don't say that this is the best performance to date. It shows a lack of knowledge on basic economics," Anwar said on Tuesday (Sept 19).

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin (PN-Larut) said there is no denying the low base, but it was the then-Perikatan Nasional government's efforts that propelled growth in subsequent years.

"Even if the base is low, if we don't know how to spur economic growth, we cannot record economic growth. That's why I am saying that good growth could be achieved with good initiatives," Hamzah said.

Asking Hamzah to check his previous statement, Anwar reiterated that he was simply disputing the statement that the 8.7% growth was greater than other countries.

"But it is OK, let him win. Economic facts cannot be disputed," Anwar said while telling Hamzah that he wanted to move on with his speech.

Hamzah said it must be accepted then that the previous government's initiatives had led to the growth.

Speaker Tan Sri Johari Abdul then asked Anwar to proceed with his speech.

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