KUALA LUMPUR: In a prelude to the unveiling of 2016 Budget, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today outlined measures the government is taking to safeguard the Malaysian economy given the challenging global environment.

 “This year we have been focused on strengthening the resilience of our economy, managing the impact of external vulnerabilities, and safeguarding the well-being of the people,” he said in a statement. 

While acknowledging the fall in the price of oil and gas had resulted in a decline in government revenues, Najib highlighted the pro-active measures taken by the government to mitigate its impact – specifically the various steps implemented to diversify the economy over the past year.

 “Two things we have done to increase resilience is to introduce GST and rationalise subsidies. These decisions have been our saviour. GST collection is higher than anticipated due to higher compliance, and fortunately we have other resources – plus the government has been prudent with expenditure.”

‎ Despite the oil price fall, and the challenges emerging markets are facing, the Prime Minister noted that Malaysia’s economic fundamentals remained strong with growth expected to be 4.5 to 5.5 percent this year, inflation at 2 to 2.5 percent and unemployment stable. 

Najib said the government was well-placed to continue to put the people first.

He added the government would provide assistance – especially to vulnerable groups – to help with rising living costs; support the private sector with pro-business policies; and ensure inclusive growth, enhance human capital development, and increase productivity, innovation and green technology.

“I have a plan, and the plan is working. I will not be distracted, for there are serious consequences of not seeing the plan through. 2016 Budget will demonstrate how the plan will improve the lives of all Malaysians, and our next steps towards achieving Vision 2020 and achieving developed nation status. The future and welfare of all Malaysians is my top priority,” he said.

Meanwhile, in an earlier video posting on Facebook, the Prime Minister said the government would do its best to mitigate the challenging economic environment, which was due to the noticeable plunge in oil price.

Najib said the government would zoom in on the B40 group, which comprises 40 per cent of Malaysians in the lower income group.

“Issues that are close to the people, such as cost of living, housing, education, jobs, public transport and health will also receive special attention from the government,” said Najib.

He said while the budget was the most difficult to formulate, the government would not waiver in concentrating efforts to improve the economy.

“The budget, this time around, is the most difficult (to formulate) following the fluctuating global economy. The noticeable drop in oil price has affected the government and country’s revenue.

“However, the government will do its best to ensure that the country’s economy will expand positively. I would like to thank all Malaysians for their participation in providing opinions and suggestions to the government through various platforms, including NajibRazak.com.

“I hope the 2016 Budget, will be well-received by the people.”

(File pix) Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Pix by Aizuddin Saad