21/12/2020 03:56 PM

By Farhana Poniman

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 -- While Malaysia is on the path towards economic recovery, containing the COVID-19 pandemic and protecting the most vulnerable must remain the country’s topmost priorities over the near term.

World Bank Group senior economist Shakira Teh Sharifuddin said Malaysia is projected to grow by 6.7 per cent in 2021, which could be attributed to a rebound from a low base in 2020, continued improvements in exports, as well as a gradual build-up of momentum in private consumption and investment.

“However, what is most important is to contain the pandemic and protect vulnerable households in the short term, while in the long term, fiscal policy should refocus on rebuilding buffers to counter future shocks and on sustaining public financing,” she said on Bernama TV’s Mid-day Update programme today.

 Shakira Teh was commenting on the recently released report, World Bank Malaysia Economic Monitor: Sowing the Seeds, which highlighted that containing the pandemic is vital to ensure a safe resumption of economic activity and to prevent a more protracted downturn.

According to the report, this would include targeted mobility restrictions in high-risk areas, large-scale testing and contact tracing to limit the spread of the virus, on top of additional funding allocations in the healthcare sector to meet the increased needs of domestic health and emergency services and to facilitate the timely and equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines when they become available.

The report is focused on the agriculture segment’s potential in lifting Malaysia economic status.

“Specifically, agrofood is a timely topic, given that in the beginning of the pandemic when the movement control order was in place, there were a lot of concern about food security.

“Secondly, the data shows that most of the B40 income group are involved in the agriculture sector, therefore addressing challenges and improving this sector will have a positive spillover effect on Malaysia as a whole,” she added.




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