|Laman Webantu KM2: 6271 File Size: 4.8 Kb *|
FEER: A Sea of Troubles
By S. Jayasankaran
2/11/2001 3:17 am Fri
[Sedikit demi sedikit sumber pendapatan negara sudah terjejas.
Kini bukan sahaja sektor elektronik sakit, industri kelapa sawit
dan pelancungan pula telah tergugat ekoran tragedi 9-11. Cuma tinggal
sektor minyak petroleum tetapi dengan Petronas menyalur berjuta-juta
wang buat wawasan gila Mahathir yang tidakpun menyumbang keuntungan
melainkan kerugian sahaja, Petronas mungkin tercekik mampus bila rezab
minyak sudah tiada. Lagipun, sebagaimana yang ditulis oleh MGG Pillai,
minyak Petronas kini dijual ke hadapan (forward sales). Hanya mereka yang
tidak berduit sahaja melakukan sedemikian......
ECONOMIC MONITOR: MALAYSIA
A Sea of Troubles
By S. Jayasankaran
Issue cover-dated November 08, 2001
The official forecast for Malaysia's economic performance this year,
adjusted for inflation, is a GDP growth rate of 1%-2%. That is
optimistic. "Most of us think there will be negative growth this year, if
only slightly," says Dominic Armstrong, head of research at ABN
Amro in Singapore. He believes GDP will contract by 0.7%.
For many people, however, it feels as if the recession is already
here. Between January and September, more than 30,000 people
were laid off, mainly from factories producing electronics products.
And things will get worse. By the end of the year, the government
expects more than 390,000 people to be out of work, with
unemployment standing at 3.9%, compared with 3.1% in 2000.
Confidence about employment is extremely low. Almost 60% of
respondents surveyed in September by JobStreet.com, a recruitment
Web site, felt it would be difficult to get a job--the lowest level since
the survey began after the Asian Crisis in 1997. "There is a lot of real
fear out there, " says Jomo Sundaram, an economics professor at the
University of Malaya.
The government, resigned to a recession in the United States that will
have a negative impact on exports, wants to stimulate domestic
demand in the hope of getting the country out of a slump. The share
of external to total demand in Malaysia is only 57% compared to 75%
in Singapore. That's why Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is
also the finance minister, announced a further round of pump-priming
in early October. A further 4.3 billion ringgit ($1.1 billion) will be spent
by the government on infrastructure works, in addition to the 3 billion
ringgit spending programme announced by Mahathir in March.
On October 21, Mahathir increased Malaysia's budget expenditure
for 2002 by 10% to just over 100 billion ringgit. It was the country's
fifth straight budget deficit but, at 5% of GDP, it's not considered
excessive. External debt is now at 50% of GDP compared with 58%
Mahathir has also cut income taxes, slashed import duties and
handed out bonuses to Malaysia's 800,000 civil servants as well as
a 10% salary hike. Interest rates are at their lowest in a decade--the
base lending rate is 6.2%.
There is no guarantee that these measures will work. Although most
analysts say that Mahathir's tax cuts for high earners will boost
consumption at the margins, they are still sceptical. "If pump-priming
worked, Japan would have boomed over the past 10 years," says
Kostas Panagiotou, regional economist at Kim Eng Securities in
Perhaps the only consolation is that Malaysia's recession won't be as
deep as that of neighbouring Singapore, where GDP is expected to
shrink by 3% or even more. For one thing, Malaysia's economy is
more broad-based. Petroleum, gas and palm oil all contribute
significant export earnings. And in an ironic twist to the global tale of
woe, exports of sterile rubber gloves, of which Malaysia is the world's
largest producer, have been boosted by almost 50% as a result of the
global anthrax scare.
Still, the September 11 terror attacks in the U.S. have also sharply
illustrated Malaysia's dependence on external flows of trade and
capital. Palm-oil stockpiles have begun rising because of a
reluctance by shippers to go anywhere near Pakistan--one of
Malaysia's big markets. War risks amid a slowing global economy are putting downward
pressure on palm-oil prices. Meanwhile, revenues from tourism, the
country's second-largest foreign-exchange earner after palm oil,
have fallen by 30% since mid-September.
War risks amid a slowing global economy are putting downward pressure on palm-oil prices. Meanwhile, revenues from tourism, the country's second-largest foreign-exchange earner after palm oil, have fallen by 30% since mid-September.
Against such a a backdrop, there is little the government can do
apart from making sure the fundamentals are right to capitalize on a