KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 25 — The Finance Ministry (MoF) is optimistic that the government will achieve the gross domestic product (GDP) growth target of 4.8 per cent for 2020 despite the challenging global economic environment.
Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah said the United States (US)-China trade war, the unrest in Hong Kong and Brexit had lowered investors’ confidence to invest in developing countries, hence impacting the regional economies.
However, he said, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s efforts to strengthen bilateral trade relations through a series of working visits overseas had given Malaysia an edge in attracting foreign investments and expanding trade.
“We should seize the opportunities created to ensure trading activities with the countries visited (by the prime minister) continue and even be expanded further.
“We also welcome foreign investments, especially from developed economies such as China, the US, Japan and South Korea,” he said Tuesday on the Bicara Naratif programme produced by RTM when talking about MoF’s achievements in 2019.
He noted that the government had also taken the initiative to provide an easier and faster route for foreign investors keen on investing in the country.
“We (MoF) have held meetings with the International Trade and Industry Ministry every month to consider and approve promptly investment applications from overseas.
“Cooperation received from agencies and state governments have also helped to facilitate (the process) and speed up approvals, therefore providing a good economic impact and creating job opportunities for Malaysians,” he said.
For this year, Amiruddin said, the government was positive about attaining the GDP growth forecast of between 4.3 per cent and 4.8 per cent.
He also said the country’s debt level was still manageable, with the government having the capability to pay off debts on schedule without affecting other aspects of the economy.
“The debts that we took were in order to implement national development projects, not for operational matters such as paying salaries. For the time being, the Federal Government debt-to-GDP ratio is still below (the self-imposed limit of) 55 per cent.
“When the GDP expands in the future, government debt will similarly grow, but we will be able to maintain the debt level at below 55 per cent (of the GDP),” he said.
Amiruddin said the country’s operating expenditure had remained “positive” in that revenue gained exceeded administration costs.
“We only need to borrow for development purposes, which is not a problem if we have a good track record in terms of debt repayment and economic growth,” he added.