Several economists today said it is unfair to judge the current Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration based on the poor short-term economic outlook in almost a year since it swept to power.
They opined that the current economic slump cannot be fully attributed to the PH administration as there are many other complicated factors that contributed to the national economic outlook.
“You can’t really judge whether the government has performed well post G14 based on the economic outlook as it depends on global and regional changes,” said Malaysian Institute of Economic Research executive director Datuk Zakariah Abdul Rashid, referring to the 14th general election last May.
“For example, Malaysia cannot influence the price of crude oil or control the trade war between China and the US,” he said at the “GE14 and the year since: Analyses and Perspectives” forum at International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) here today.
Zakariah also said the country’s economic fundamentals remain stable and that Malaysia was still producing a trade surplus.
He added that PH also had to contend with legacy issues from the previous Barisan Nasional government that have accumulated for decades.
“I would say the economic problem is overwhelming but not because of PH. This is because the problem has accumulated for many many years, even under Tun Mahathir’s administration,” he said, referring to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first tenure.
Another economist, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Vice Chancellor Tan Sri Noor Azlan Ghazali said PH had to contend with many economic challenges but applauded its move to rationalise several subsidies programmes.
“I like the idea of the government continuing the rationalisation of subsidies. This is to ensure that the people who are supposed to receive such help will be able to do so,’’ he said, stating further that such moves would deter benefit cheats.
However, both Noor Azlan and Zakariah pointed out that PH has yet to reveal or set a new economic model for the nation, stating that they would prefer to see in detail where PH intend to steer the country economically.
IIUM Associate Professor of Economy Gairuzazmi Mat Ghani opined that it will take time for PH to properly mend the nation’s economy.
“I don’t think you can solve such problems in a year or two as it involves many structural issues. Any real changes would take a long period of time to see it come to fruition,” he said.