PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is experiencing healthy levels of economic growth with its Gross National Income up by 51.8 per cent and 2.26 million new jobs created, despite years of global uncertainties. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank had also raised positive predictions for growth in the country’s economy to nearly five per cent this year, and beyond in 2018. “Unemployment and inflation kept low, and the deficit steadily reduced. Very healthy levels of growth, despite years of considerable global turbulence,” Najib said in his speech at the 63rd Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) anniversary dinner tonight. The healthy growth in economy was registered in the first two quarters of the year, in which Najib said the numbers had exceeded initial expectations. “In fact, in the first quarter of 2017, we registered growth of 5.6 per cent. And it has been announced today that in the second quarter, we have beaten all our expectations, with growth of 5.8 per cent.”
Najib said Malaysia’s economic strength and the positive growth on record had led to international confidence and recognition. “And just yesterday (Thursday), Fitch Ratings reaffirmed our country’s rating with Stable Outlook, citing our strong GDP growth, sustained current account surpluses and country’s net external creditor position as key drivers.” Najib advised the audience not to be taken in by contrary claims and fake news spread by certain quarters in regards to Malaysia’s economy. “The truth is, as the most recent report from the World Bank concluded, and I quote: ‘The Malaysian economy is progressing from a position of strength.’,” he said. Earlier, Najib praised MBAM for its role in boosting the construction sector which is expected to grow by eight per cent this year, through large-scale projects including the expansive Pan Borneo Highway and vast rail network of the East Coast Rail Line (ECRL).
“MBAM plays a key role in our construction sector — which is expected to grow by eight per cent in 2017, and to continue registering robust growth over the next five years, boosted in part by the infrastructure projects the government is implementing across the country. “These projects include the ECRL, the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail, the Pan Borneo Highway, KL118 here in our capital, the Refinery and Petrochemicals Integrated Development Project in Johor, and the MRT Line 2. “They will provide new jobs, raise wages, enable skill transfers, increase connectivity, and will have a real and transformative effect for all Malaysians.”
Najib panned suggestions that only foreign companies would benefit from such projects, citing as an example, that of the RM21 billion worth of contracts for the recently-opened Sungai Buloh-Kajang Mass Rapid Transit Line, RM17 billion were allotted to Malaysian firms. “And for the upcoming Sungai Buloh–Serdang–Putrajaya Line, RM26.7 billion of the RM30 billion awarded to date has been to Malaysian contractors. Now some people have tried to suggest that only foreigners will benefit from some of these projects… nothing could be further from the truth.” As for the ECRL, Najib said 30 per cent involvement of local contractors had been guaranteed, while a majority of local firms and joint ventures had won work packages worth RM10 billion tendered under Phase One of the Pan Borneo Highway section in Sarawak. “The ECRL will be a game changer that will stimulate investment, spur commercial activities, create thousands of jobs, facilitate quality education and boost tourism in Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan. “If we take the Pan Borneo Highway as another example, when the work packages under Phase One of the Sarawak section were announced last December, a majority of them were won by local firms and their joint ventures, securing RM10 billion out of the RM16.5 billion funds allocated. “Those 11 main contractors then appointed 36 local sub-contractors to undertake construction work. So we can see how these projects directly help Malaysian firms and the Malaysian people.”