,Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus: “A faster vaccination rollout will lead to a sooner-than-expected reopening of the economy where all states can transition into phase four by September."
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BANK Negara has revised downwards Malaysia’s 2021 gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast to between 3% and 4%, as the prolonged nationwide lockdown and lingering uncertainties from the Covid-19 pandemic continue to weigh heavily on the economy.
Despite year-on-year GDP growth of 16.1% in the second quarter of this year, which was above forecasts, Bank Negara governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus says economic performance was adversely impacted following the implementation of the full movement control order (FMCO) in June.
“While the economy continued on a recovery path in April, domestic-oriented activity was affected by tighter containment measures in the later part of the second quarter of 2021,” she said during a virtual media conference on Malaysia’s second quarter GDP performance yesterday.
Nor Shamsiah says that there were “some improvements” in July, but emphasised that it was still below pre-FMCO levels.
“Overall, the Malaysian economy is expected to grow between 3% and 4% in 2021. The downward revision is reflected from the implementation of the FMCO nationwide,” she says.
AmBank Research had projected GDP for the second quarter of 2021 to hover between 11% and 13%, while RHB Investment Bank anticipated a 15% growth.
The central bank had initially forecast Malaysia’s GDP to grow between 6% and 7.5% this year.
Nor Shamsiah says the near-term outlook will be dependent on Covid-19-related risk factors.
“The FMCO is expected to have a cumulative effect of five percentage points on this year’s GDP growth, or an average of RM400mil to RM500mil in daily real output losses.
“With 7.1% growth recorded in the first half of 2021 and looking at the Covid-19-related developments from June, we expect a more moderate growth in the second half of the year, especially in the third quarter.”
Nor Shamsiah says growth prospects in the third quarter will still remain muted due to the continuation of the FMCO, adding that the situation should improve by the fourth quarter of this year.
At the core of it, she says recovery will be heavily dependent on how quickly the country’s population can be inoculated.
“A faster vaccination rollout will lead to a sooner-than-expected reopening of the economy where all states can transition into phase four by September.
“With a faster vaccination rate, where a majority of the total population would be fully inoculated by October, it will generate a faster recovery in labour market conditions and consumer confidence, as well as subsequently stronger than expected demand conditions.”
If this scenario is achieved, Nor Shamsiah says Malaysia’s 2021 GDP growth could exceed 4%.