Malaysia to be put back on track in 3 years, says Guan Eng

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KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 8): Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said today the government recognises that Malaysia's fiscal strength has weakened and will take steps to overcome them over a three-year time frame to put Malaysia back on track.

He said the ministry of finance (MoF) welcomes Moody's Investors Service's affirmation yesterday of Malaysia's credit ratings at A3, with a stable outlook, which had stated that the A3 rating recognises that government debt will stay high for longer and the government's fiscal policy choices will narrow the revenue base and reduce fiscal flexibility further.

"The affirmation of an unchanged ratings was achieved despite recognising that Malaysia's fiscal strength has weakened with a 3.7% fiscal deficit to gross domestic product in 2018, 3.4% in 2019, 3% in 2020 and less than 2.8% in 2021, caused by the corruption scandals related to 1Malaysia Development Bhd of the previous Barisan Nasional government," said Guan Eng in a statement.

"Moody’s confidence in Malaysia’s robust growth potential, deep domestic capital markets, a solid institutional framework, including strong monetary policy effectiveness, are strong credit positives," he added.

Guan Eng once again pointed to the country's growth in exports in October 2018 to a historic high in a single month of RM96.4 billion and a record trade surplus of RM16.3 billion.

The Malaysian Investment Development Authority also earlier announced that approved foreign direct investments in the manufacturing sector increased by 250% to RM49 billion for the first nine months of 2018, from RM14 billion a year ago.

"What is noteworthy is that for the months from May to September 2018, total approved FDIs in the manufacturing sector was RM35 billion compared to RM7.3 billion from May to September 2017. This demonstrates that foreign investors’ confidence in Malaysia, is resurgent under the new leadership of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, with a 379% hike in the said figures, after the peaceful transition of power that took place on May 9," said Guan Eng.

"There is therefore every reason for Bloomberg on Nov 28 to place Malaysia as No. 1 on the top of the list of 20 emerging economies in the world, because of its current-account surplus, relatively stable economic growth outlook, and valuations. The data also showed inflation came in at 0.6% in October from a year earlier, compared with its 10-year government bond yield of about 4.17%," he added.

Yesterday, Moody's said the stable outlook on Malaysia balances credit constraints from low debt affordability and a high debt burden against inherent credit strengths, including resilient economic growth and a stable and broad funding base for the country's debt.

"Relative stability in financing conditions in a weaker global environment also underpins the stable outlook at A3," added the global rating agency.