Press Statement by Datuk Mah Siew Keong Gerakan National Vice-President and Chairman of the Central Economic Bureau Gerakan: Urgent Steps Must be Taken to Address GDP Drop

Gerakan Vice-President Datuk Mah Siew Keong today called on the government to accelerate the pace of reforms and continue to liberalise our economy. Mah, who is a former Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry said that one good step forward would be the removal of quotas on all sectors to ensure we remain competitive in view of the drastic 6.2% contraction of our gross domestic product (GDP).

“I was expecting a significant drop, but 6.2% is quite a worrisome figure. This reinforces the need to diversify and hasten the liberalization of the economy to attract investment and fuel our fight to remain competitive in these challenging times. Also, institutional reforms and our quest to reinforce the integrity of our institutions must not be sidelined because economic reforms alone will not carry the day” said Mah, who is also Chairman of the Gerakan Central Economic Bureau.

He called on the Government to look at specific sectors that experienced significant drops like manufacturing and export orientated goods, and craft detailed solutions to arrest the problems faced by these sectors. Mah however conceded, that the government does not have much control over the export market as it depends on global demand, but called on manufacturers to make their good more attractive and affordable.

“Tan Sri Zeti has already reminded us that the 2nd quarter of 2009 will be very much the same, and with a recession looming, we all must take steps to be more conservative in our spending, and make the necessary savings to ensure that we are not hit too hard by what is going to be a tough year. I hope employers will be judicious in their assessment of employees and avoid wanton layoffs,” Mah advised.

Mah also advised the Government to seriously address the issue of poverty, especially urban poverty, which will be compounded by the likely drop in income or even job losses. As such, he said that the implementation of both the stimulus packages must be monitored even more diligently to appease the anxieties of the Rakyat, and to mitigate the effects of a likely recession.

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