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TJ FEER: Out of the Woods (Budget 2001)
By Kapal Berita
5/11/2000 8:43 pm Sun
Umumnya rencana FEER ini kurang menyengat. Namun ada dua
perenggan yang agak menarik untuk diterjemahkan:
"Sistem kewangan sudah stabil, ekonomi saudah pulih, tetapi
ia masih memerlukan rangsangan polisi fiskal" mengikut
P.K. Basu, ketua ekonomi Credit Suisse First Boston di
Stimulasi ini perlu kerana kepulihan Malaysia masih
bertampal-tampal dan ekonomi sedang bergerak pada dua
Walaupun ekspot sudah pulih dan berprestasi baik, ekonomi
domestik masih tidak bersinar. Sebagai contoh yang khusus,
industri pembinaan masih dihantui oleh bangunan2 yang
bermasalah sejak sebelum krisis. dan ia masih terumbang
ambing. Kadar pertumbuhan industri ini cuma 3.1% sahaja
tahun ini selepas menguncup 5.6% tahun lepas. Permintaan
pula telah merosot bila ia meragam lari dalam tempoh separuh
Pengurus dana CMS Dresdner Asset Management di Kuala Lumpur
pula berpendapat pelabur tidak boleh mengharapkan sesuatu yang
berlebihan dari belanjawan pra krisis ini:
"Ini bukannya satu belanjawan ringgit dan sen ekonomi; tetapi
semuanya adalah kesamaran belaka yang berfokuskan sesuatu yang
lembik, mewacanakan pembangunan modal buruh, dan mengelak dari
From The Far Eastern Economic Review
Out of the Woods
Malaysia's first post-crisis budget projects new directions and robust
By Lorien Holland/KUALA LUMPUR
HAS MALAYSIA emerged ahead of neighbours Indonesia, Thailand and the
Philippines and consigned the Asian financial crisis to its past?
Malaysian Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin seemed pretty sure that's
the case as he unveiled his 2001 budget, entitled "A New Malaysia," on
In a 90-minute address to parliament, the political veteran who was
brought back into government in 1998 to deal with the economic crisis
said solid, long-term growth was back on the radar screen. "The Asian
financial crisis almost derailed us from our goal of achieving
developed-nation status. We have lost precious time," he said as he
boosted the economic growth forecast for this year from 5.8% to 7.5%
and unveiled new plans to push Malaysia into the IT fast lane and "a
new economic era."
But analysts weren't all so certain that Malaysia, which is benefiting
this year from high world oil prices and strong demand for its
dominant export, electronic goods, is entirely in the clear. While
Daim's 91-billion-ringgit ($23 billion) budget is in the black for
operational expenditure, there's a significant allocation for
government infrastructure spending aimed at stimulating economic
growth, which is forecast to create a budget deficit equal to 4.9% of
"The financial system has been broadly stabilized, and the economy has
recovered, but it still needs a stimulative fiscal policy," says P.K.
Basu, chief economist at Credit Suisse First Boston in Kuala Lumpur.
That stimulation is necessary because Malaysia's recovery remains
patchy and the economy is still moving on two tracks. While exports
have recovered and are doing well, the domestic economy is lacklustre.
In particular, the construction industry is stuck with a huge glut of
pre-crisis buildings and remains in the doldrums, with growth of only
3.1% expected this year after a 5.6% contraction last year.
Consumption, too, has weakened following a spurt of spending in the
first half of the year.
Tax cuts to boost consumption and fresh incentives to boost flagging
foreign investment would help bolster domestic markets, says an
economist at one of Kuala Lumpur's government-sponsored think-tanks.
While both measures were anticipated by the financial markets, neither
materialized (save a modest tax cut for low-income families), leading
the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange composite index to drop 2.9% on
In fact, the only concrete concession to the markets was a further
loosening of the capital controls imposed in September 1998. Now, only
portfolio funds that remain in the country for less than a year will
be subject to a 10% profit levy; the rest are exempt.
LEVEL PLAYING FIELD
"There is some mild irritation that the levy hasn't been abolished
entirely, but it is clearly a good start, as this puts Malaysia back
onto a level playing field for a lot of institutional investors," says
Dominic Armstrong, head of research at ABN Amro Malaysia in Kuala
The finance minister's hint of a more open policy toward foreign
talent and investment also got a cautious vote of approval, especially
in light of Kuala Lumpur's longstanding protective policies toward key
industries and prickly relationship with foreign managers. Daim called
for "the best brains" from Bangalore to California to invigorate
Malaysia's fledgling IT sector and "smart partnerships" with investors
in energy, ports, vehicle making, airlines and financial services.
But the absence of clear undertakings to promote foreign investment
led to a strong attack from Lim Kit Siang, chairman of the opposition
Democratic Action Party, who said investors were looking for a regime
that is predictable and credible and not subject to vagaries and
Lim said in a media statement.
Scott Lim, fund manager for CMS Dresdner Asset Management in Kuala
Lumpur, cautions on expecting too much from Malaysia's first
post-crisis budget. "This was never going to be a budget focusing on
the dollars and cents of the economy; instead it is all very vague and
focused on the intangibles, on building human capital, and on stepping
away from the crisis."