EVERY now and then optimism glimmers in my eyes, only to be overtaken by a sense of outrage. I am also often overwhelmed by spasms of panic not knowing if I can believe what is unfolding.
For some months, thanks to the invisible enemy, all resources were channelled towards grappling with the menace.
My mind is beset with pessimism that the country will come out of the rut any time soon. The political situation, the economic slump, unemployment and much more are peaking and my heart goes out to the B40 group and the M40 community is in no better state either.
We have the seat warmers who are sedentary in various positions and are either motivated by other interests or are in a predicament between the devil and the deep blue sea.
The incontrovertible truth is, the country has the potential to become the choice destination for investment, tourism, education, business and much more, but it has been crudely disturbed.
There is massive concern which has pushed the global economy into the pit of hopelessness and every country is in a similar predicament, with the severity ranging from one end to the other.
Covid-19 started from China but is now threatening the whole world by spreading rapidly as well as continuously, endangering human lives. But, the long-term results of the coronavirus outbreak that hit the global economy seem to have shaken the political and economic balance in many countries.
The pandemic, which has postponed international travel and brought production to a grinding halt or to its lowest level, has caused shock waves in markets.
In addition to supply and demand shocks, there is a wide fluctuation in the financial markets. Economic life all over the world is struggling to restart because the pandemic has affected the supply and demand fronts simultaneously.
Since World War II, the world has been facing grave economic recessions, and economists agree that there has never been a time when all these imbalances were experienced so harshly at the same time. Unfortunately, this dangerous scenario has become a reality.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowered its 2020 global growth forecast due to the spread of Covid-19. The IMF’s Global Economic Outlook estimated that the global economy, expected to grow by 3.3%, would contract by 3% this year. The global economic growth forecast for the next year increased from 3.4% to 5.8%.
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said in a recent statement that Malaysia’s economic growth will be in the -2% to +0.5% range. It also estimated that 951,000 people will lose their jobs.
The Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre predicted that about 40% of small- and medium-sized enterprises will have to wind up their operations if the Covid-19 chain of infection persists for three to six months.
Thankfully, in Malaysia, we got the strategy right in combating the virus and we are on the recovery mode with almost all activities having restarted with caution.
In this predicament, economists view megaprojects as a redeemer with the multipliers having a positive domino effect on the country’s economy.
The supply chain will be rescued and projects with a large enough foothold will be able to offer thousands of jobs which will lead to spending.
Particularly, infrastructure investments are said to have a powerful multiplier effect as they enhance accessibility and facilitate trade, improve mobility, generate greater employment opportunities, and boost overall economic productivity.
Government stimulus spending, whether on infrastructure or other goods and services, is predicated on the assumption that an underproductive economy can be spurred back to full output by using new public expenditures to boost aggregate demand.
In this context, the revival of shelved megaprojects is contingent on the government drawing up a white paper redefining the needs and its substantial impact on communities, environment and budgets.
However, extreme attention is needed at the project development phase to reduce the risk of predispositions that will lead to strategic misinterpretation.
The government is still focused on handouts but this is not sustainable as when the coffers dry up, the scramble will begin.
Instead, it would be wise to get businesses and commercial activities going for constant supply of income for the government, corporates, communities and individuals.
Again, there is a tendency to interfere with government machinery, which is emphatically working to lift the country from the doldrums. The tawdry antics of some personalities in their fight to pursue ambitions must stop for the larger benefit of the rakyat.
Was it the revered Abraham Lincoln who said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power”. Power must be seen as the ability to do good for others, not the reverse.