KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has reportedly said that bolder measures were needed to revive the pandemic-dogged economy, as he criticised the Perikatan Nasional government’s Covid-19 response as lacking depth.
In an interview with South China Morning Post, Anwar urged Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to produce a detailed roadmap for a broader reopening of the economy, claiming the stimulus he unveiled to date has “failed to address core economic concerns.”
Still, the former deputy prime minister and finance minister told the Hong Kong-based paper that the government’s RM295 billion worth of stimulus spending has done some good.
But Anwar argued that much of it lacked clarity and the sort of initiative necessary to spur growth.
“They have managed somewhat satisfactorily, I must concede, on the Covid-19 pandemic,” he was quoted as saying.
“But then when it comes to prescriptions for the economy, you can find a lack of clarity; No. 2, no new initiative; and No. 3, [they are] almost in a virtual state of denial.”
The Muhyiddin administration has so far pledged RM295 billion in stimulus, although his critics argue that only RM45 billion would be directly injected into the economy.
Anwar and his Pakatan Harapan allies believe the sum to be insufficient and have urged the government not to skimp on funds, calling on the prime minister to emulate neighbours with larger stimulus packages compared with their respective gross domestic products.
The Opposition coalition has called for direct injections to be doubled to RM90 billion, mostly to aid small and medium enterprises find their feet as the economy reopens after the four month lockdown.
Anwar told SCMP that the Opposition will support more stimulus spending, now that the Muhyiddin government had obtained parliamentary assent to increase its debt-to-GDP ratio to 60 per cent.
Muhyiddin had recently indicated preparedness to pump in more money “if necessary”.