Malaysia's economy 'marks' decline without ringgit, PM Anwar says investment picking up

But still AnwarHe, who is also finance minister, said the ringgit's performance was „concerning” but Malaysia's economy was now in a much better position to manage currency volatility compared to the crisis in the late 1990s.

„They always compare to '98. In 98, the ringgit was down, inflation was up, unemployment was up, there was no investment,” Anwar told reporters on the sidelines of an event.

“But look at the whole 1708669163. Investments are the largest in the country, inflation continues to decline, unemployment is low, and our growth is sustainable compared to our neighbors.

Malaysia's central bank remains upbeat despite the ringgit falling to a 26-year low

The government expects the economy to expand by 4 to 5 percent this year, up from an estimated 4 percent in 2023.

In comparison, Thailand This week growth slowed to 1.9 percent in 2023.

Anwar's comments came after Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) on Tuesday moved to allay fears of a broader economic slowdown, saying growth was on a positive path and that current ringgit levels did not reflect „positive prospects” for the economy.

The ringgit is one of Asia's weakest currencies, struggling to regain strength as countries in the region withdraw. The international spread of Covid-19. Last year, it was Asia's worst-performing currency, second only to the Japanese yen.

A weaker ringgit has historically been a boon to exporters in Malaysia's trade-oriented economy, but fueled inflation as the cost of imported fertilizers and animal feed is passed on to consumers.

Anwar echoed the central bank's stance, saying the country has recorded the highest level of approved investments in history at 329.5 billion ringgit (US$69 billion) for the whole of 2023, up 23 percent from the previous year.

„If confidence was low because of the ringgit, we wouldn't have attracted these kinds of investments,” he said.

However, the Prime Minister said he has instructed BNM to continue to monitor the ringgit as the government continues to make efforts to manage inflation and reduce the cost of living.

It also includes schemes to manage fluctuations in prices of essential commodities like rice, fish and meat, he said.

„What's important for us is to focus on what we can do and what we need to do, and we do that on a daily basis,” Anwar said.

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