Economist questions need for NRP 2.0
By Reshna Reem Ganesan, Free Malaysia Today (25 February 2022) PETALING JAYA: An economist has questioned the rationale behind the proposal for a National Recovery Plan (NRP) 2.0, saying he doubts that it can be justified under the current circumstances. Geoffrey Williams of the Malaysia University of Science and Technology said he believed implementing the proposal forwarded by National Recovery Council (MPN) chairman Muhyiddin Yassin would be hugely damaging. “We need economic reopening, less government interference, and time to allow businesses to heal and recover,” he told FMT.
Williams spoke of NRP 1.0 as a staged reopening based on indicators like the number of Covid-19 cases and hospital admissions, ICU capacity and mortality figures, and alleged that it was never properly implemented. He said NRP 2.0 might turn out to be a laundry list of economic handouts driven by political issues.
“It sounds like a plan for pre-election handouts to waste money at a time when we need economic stability,” he said. Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive director Shaun Cheah said the NRP was no more than an SOP plan.
“It’s a plan that determines what SOPs are allowed when certain metrics are reached,” he said. He said it should instead be an executable policy plan to help businesses recover and should include export incentives, loan moratoriums, tax incentives and liberalisation from restrictions.
Recently, Muhyiddin said MPN was formulating an NRP 2.0 to be presented to the government. The plan, to be prepared within three to six months, will set a timeline for the nation’s full recovery. Subang MP Wong Chen, who is an MPN member, said NRP 2.0 would focus on major economic indicators such as growth, consumption, investments, trade and government finances. It was a necessary plan, he told FMT. “The situation now is one of guarded optimism as we are taking cues from what is happening in Europe,” he said. “With the outlook being more stable since we have higher vaccination rates, it is an ideal time to draw up version 2.0.”
But he also said there must be an honest assessment of the results and shortcomings of the first NRP. “Let us not forget that there were a lot of policy failures that resulted in mass infections and deaths last year from May to September,” he said.
“I hope the government will be dynamic and brave in taking the opportunity to reset our economy, which is bleeding from low wages, high food inflation, brain drain and poor governance records.
“At the end of the day, political will is needed to implement it.”