PETALING JAYA: Malaysia will lower its economic growth outlook for this year due to movement restrictions against Covid-19, the country’s finance minister said, signalling the government may forecast expansion around 4%.

While there’s optimism that the current surge in cases can be contained and lockdowns can be eased, the government still expects to lower its gross domestic product estimate for 2021, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said yesterday in an interview with Bloomberg TV.

“We’re in the midst of revising to a lower number and will share the exact number after we get data from the ground, ” Tengku Zafrul said.

Asked if the forecast could be cut to around 4%, Tengku Zafrul responded that it could be “around the range you mentioned.”

The government has already said it will revise the outlook, currently at 6%-7.5%, next month.

Tengku Zafrul was appointed last week as coordinating minister for the nation’s National Recovery Plan, responsible for monitoring the implementation of strategy.

While an accelerated vaccine rollout has allowed the government to ease virus curbs in seven states, much of the country remains under a lockdown since June 1.

“Our focus today is for the economy to open safely, ” Tengku Zafrul said. “It’s a dynamic and agile plan.”

Tengku Zafrul said he would propose raising the debt ceiling to 65%, from 60% currently, in Parliament and said there’s “enough liquidity in the market” for the government to borrow to fund stimulus packages. — Bloomberg

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