Malaysia proposes Asean-level economic recovery plan

Malaysia has proposed for Asean nations develop a Post Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan, which among others would include measures to address pertinent issues affecting some 600 million people in the region. Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said apart from rejuvenating the region’s economy after the end of the pandemic, the Asean Economic Recovery Plan should also focus on strengthening social welfare safety net, boosting food security and improving education for the people in member countries. Muhyiddin said the economic recovery plan must also outline ways for member countries to preserve supply chain connectivity and ensure a smooth flow of medical, food and other essential supplies. The plan, said the prime minister, must also include measures to ensure critical infrastructure for trade and trading routes via air, land and sea are secured and remain open. The Asean Special Summit on Covid-19 was chaired by Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and participated by 10 Asean member states leaders. (NST Online)

Global economy in 2020 on track for sharpest downturn since 1930s: IMF

The global economy is expected to shrink by 3.0% during 2020 in a stunning coronavirus-driven collapse of activity that will mark the steepest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said. It predicted a partial rebound in 2021, with the world economy growing at a 5.8% rate, but said its forecasts were marked by “extreme uncertainty” and that outcomes could be far worse, depending on the course of the pandemic. “This recovery in 2021 is only partial as the level of economic activity is projected to remain below the level we had projected for 2021, before the virus hit,” said Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s chief economist. Under the Fund’s best-case scenario, the world is likely to lose a cumulative $9 trillion in output over two years – greater than the combined GDP of Germany and Japan, she added. The IMF’s forecasts assume that outbreaks of the novel coronavirus will peak in most countries during the second quarter and fade in the second half of the year, with business closures and other containment measures gradually unwound. (Reuters)

Negative growth rate projected for Malaysia retail industry

Estimates calculated by Retail Group Malaysia (RGM) have projected the country’s retail industry could suffer a negative growth rate for the first time in 22 years following the restrictive measures taken to contain the Covid-19 outbreak. A statement by RGM showed its estimates of how retail sales in Malaysia could see growth rates of -18.8% and -9.3% in the first and second quarters of 2020. However, the group’s estimates, after factoring in the lifting of the MCO followed by a potentially sluggish recovery rate, indicated possible positive growth rates in the second half of the year, with 2.5% and 3.3% growth in the third and fourth quarters respectively. For the whole year of 2020, the Malaysian retail industry is expected to suffer a decline in sales by (-)5.5% as compared to last year. The previous year when the Malaysian retail industry had a negative growth rate was 1998 — the first year of the Asian financial and economic crisis. “In 1998, Malaysia’s retail industry contracted by 20 per cent,” read RGM’s report. (Malay Mail)

MBAM and Rehda will work together to combat Covid-19

The local property and construction sectors say they will work for hand in hand to contain the spread of Covid-19 during the Movement Control Order (MCO). The government last Friday announced that some construction activities will be allowed to carry out works during Phase 3 of the MCO, with the strict implementation of a specific Site Operating Procedures (SOP) to prevent the pandemic from spreading at work sites. In a joint statement, Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) and the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Malaysia said this move will surely help the industry and it’s related 140 upstream and downstream industries. This is great news for developers and contractors including suppliers of construction materials and equipment, manufacturers, professionals and many more in the supply chain, the statement said. The industry is a significant contributor to the nation’s economy where it employs about 1.4 million workers and a paying salary of about RM40 billion yearly. (NST Online)

construction building worker

US returns RM1.3bil of 1MDB money to Malaysia

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) says that it had sent US$300mil (RM1.3bil) in funds stolen in the 1MDB corruption scandal to the Malaysian government that had been laundered through the global financial system. Combined with other funds handed over nearly one year ago, DoJ said it has now returned or helped Malaysia recover more than US$1bil (RM4.33bil) in funds and assets lost in the scam. The money was a part of the more than US$4.5bil that (RM19.47bil) US investigators say was looted from the state-owned investment firm, with alleged help from ex-prime minister Najib Razak and his inner circle. (The Star Online)