(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The National Economic Recovery Plan (NERP) prepared by the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) released by the Special Functions Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin, repeatedly stressed that as the economic crisis had been "prolonged by the weakening of confidence", steps should be taken to strengthen public and corporate governance and enhance transparency and accountability, with "more frequent release of economic data to allow analyses and to increase transparency".
It pointed out that in the United Kingdom, the minutes of the Bank of England board meetings are released to the public, while the US Treasury releases economic data at a regular and timely manner.
I fully support this proposal by the NEAC in the NERP. Unfortunately, the NEAC has not been able to act on its own recommendations, as up to now, the NERP has not been made available to MPs and the public.
I do not understand why the NEAC has found it so difficult to ensure that the NERP is made freely available to all MPs and all interested Malaysians when Daim made it public two weeks ago.
As a public service, the DAP will put the NERP on sale tomorrow at the DAP forum on "National Economic Recovery Plan (NERP) - 13 months of the worst economic crisis" at Federal Hotel (Banquet Hall) from 7.30 p.m. to 11 p.m. The speakers at the forum include Professor Jomo Sundram, Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam and myself.
I will like here to ask the NEAC whether, In the spirit of greater accountability and transparency, it is prepared to make public all reports and studies it had commissioned through its various working committees?
In this connection, why is the government so slow in releasing data on the second quarterly performance of the Malaysian economy.
Other countries have already reported on the second quarterly performance of their economies from April to June. Singapore for instance, on 28th July 1998, announced that its economy grew just 3.8 per cent in the first six months and seems headed for a recession in the current second half.
Singapore's growth momentum has slowed significantly, with all sectors -- apart from construction -- affected by the downturn.
Given the government's projection of 0.5 to 1.5 per cent growth for the full year, the H1 figure means the economy could contract 0.7 to 2.6 per cent in the July-to-December period.
During the first quarter, the Malaysian economy contracted by 1.8 per cent and Malaysians are eager to know the gravity of the GDP contraction in the second quarter of the year.
I call on the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be forthcoming with all the economic data and statistics in order to restore confidence, as the NERP had warned that the Malaysian GDP could contract more than the projected -1% to -2% if there is "continuing lack of confidence".
The economic prospects for 1998 in a scenario of projected -1% to -2% GDP contraction is already very grim and bleak. Would the data from the economy Second Quarter’s performance be supportive of the government’s projections of -1% to -2% GDP contraction or reinforce the more pessimistic forecasts of economists and analysts that Malaysia’s GDP contraction for this year could be as serious as -4% to -5%?