PUTRAJAYA: The economy rebounded from a recession, expanding by an annual rate of 4.5% in the fourth quarter (4Q) of last year, following three consecutive quarters of contraction in the gross domestic product (GDP).
Policymakers said the outlook for the economy, which grew above market estimates, remained bullish this year and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak expressed his hope of seeing the nation achieve a higher GDP growth than earlier expected.
“The earlier forecast was 4% for this year but I’m hoping we can achieve one or two percentage points more. We are going all out and we hope to generate confidence through speedy implementation of projects and encourage the private sector to invest.
“With higher confidence, we should have a good year in terms of economic performance,” Najib told reporters here yesterday at a memorandum of understanding signing ceremony involving Felda Holdings Bhd, Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority, and Felcra Bhd.
Najib said the economy was out of the woods, and barring any unforeseen circumstances, the country has recovered from the crisis and should be looking forward to steady growth in 2010.
Asked if Malaysia was now “out of the woods”, Najib said: “Yes, provided that nothing seriously unexpected happens with regard to the global economy.
“For example, any major sovereign (fund) collapse… Barring any unforeseen circumstances of that nature, we have recovered from the crisis and should be looking forward to steady growth for 2010,” said Najib, who is also finance minister.
He said the new monitoring unit established by him had made a key difference to spur the recovery. This was by virtue of the unit’s engagement with ministries and central agencies to ensure that their programmes under the government’s two stimulus packages could be implemented speedily.
“One of the main reasons why we were able to spend RM1 billion per month for 2009 was because we have a special monitoring unit attached to the ministry of finance. This was not in existence before,” he added.
Public sector spending rose 1.3% in the fourth quarter while development expenditure rose 9.5% to RM17.6 billion from the previous corresponding period.
Of the RM17 billion for 113,000 projects under the stimulus packages, a total of RM13.9 billion has already been spent. “This amounts to roughly RM1 billion a month flowing into the system since January 2009,” Najib said.