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Malaysia unveils $16.2 billion economic stimulus

Malaysia unveils $16.2 billion economic stimulus

Malaysia's government unveiled a massive 60 billion ringgit ($16.2 billion) economic stimulus package, but acknowledged the country may not be able to avoid a recession and massive job losses.
"The implementation of such a large stimulus package is unprecedented in the nation's history," Finance Minister Najib Razak told Parliament in a speech Tuesday to detail what has been dubbed a mini-budget.
Lawmakers thumped their desks in appreciation when Najib, who will take over as prime minister later this month, announced the figure of 60 billion ringgit to be spent over two years in 2009 and 2010.
The stimulus package is in addition to a a 7 billion ringgit ($1.9 billion) package announced in November.
Najib said the package, which includes a 10 billion ringgit ($2.7 billion) fiscal injection in 2009 and 5 billion ringgit ($1.35 billion) in 2010 will raise the size of the government budget deficit from the equivalent of 4.8 percent of the economy to 7.6 percent this year.
He said the government has slashed its economic growth forecast for 2009. It now expects the economy will shrink 1 percent in the worst case scenario and grow 1 percent in the best case scenario.
The government had earlier made an optimistic forecast of 3.5 percent growth this year.
Painting a gloomy picture of the world and domestic economy, Najib said unemployment is forecast to rise to 4.5 percent from 3.7 percent last year. Since October, about 25,000 workers have been retrenched and 30,900 temporarily laid off.
The stimulus package is, however, aimed at reducing unemployment and increasing job opportunities, easing the people's burden, assisting private sector and building capacity for the future.
He said the government will create 163,000 training and job placement opportunities in the public and private sectors and give a tax deduction for employers who hire retrenched workers.
The levy on foreign workers will be doubled for all sectors, except construction, plantation and domestic help in a bid to reduce dependence on foreign labor and utilize the domestic labor force.


Updated : 2021-07-31 05:45 GMT+08:00