KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — Figures showing Malaysia’s back-to-back quarterly growth since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim took over as finance minister proves that the Madani Economic Framework is working, according to Minister of Economy Rafizi Ramli.
Speaking in the Dewan Rakyat, Rafizi rejected former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s claim that public confidence in the Anwar government's economic management is waning.
“At which point Pagoh, do you say that the economy is not improving? I want to ask you back, when Pagoh and Perikatan Nasional were the government for 33 months, have you ever recorded growth from one quarter to another?” Rafizi asked, referring to Muhyiddin by his parliamentary constituency.
“None,” he added.
"This is the first time in years that economic growth from one quarter to another registers subsequent growth and this unprecedented. We now have the lowest poverty rate. Higher wage growth than previous years. Positive momentum on growth. Lowest inflation rate," Rafizi went on.
"So again at what point, Pagoh, that you say the people have no confidence [in our economy] when we can see confidence is slowly returning, including among investors. If you and PN aren't confident it's okay but don't ever ride and use the people's name," the minister added.
Rafizi said that the latest positive gross domestic data is “unprecedented” and a reflection of returning confidence in Malaysia’s economy under the Anwar administration.
The Malaysian economy registered back-to-back growth in the last three quarters, the latest at 3.3 per cent.
Muhyiddin claimed Malaysians have become increasingly frustrated by the Anwar government's inability to boost growth.
The Pagoh MP blamed it on Anwar’s insistence on helming the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and suggested that it would be better for the economy to be managed by a single ministry with Rafizi heading it.
But Rafizi disagreed, saying the MoF's primary responsibility is setting out fiscal policies.
He maintained that Anwar is the “best person” to lead a ministry that oversees government procurements.
"The actual role of the MoF role is fiscal management. In my opinion, the problem previously was that the [former] prime minister centralised everything under your control so you didn't manage to do much. As far as medium to long-term economic planning, that falls under the MoF," Rafizi said.
"Then the implementation is done together with other ministries that share the same mandate and matters that relate to governance because it is the MoF that has to ensure the contract procurement process is really transparent," he added.
"That is why in my opinion the best person to be the finance minister is the prime minister. Because who else can shoulder the responsibility to make sure governance on procurement if not the prime minister," he said, referring to Anwar.
The so-called "unity government" has had to defend itself against criticism over Anwar's decision to take over the finance portfolio, which detractors said went against Pakatan Harapan's own election pledge not to allow prime ministers to head the MoF.
The pledge was among the bloc's key reform promises ahead of the 2018 and 2022 general elections. PH leaders suggested the convention of ceding control over the finance portfolio to a prime minister has led to widespread corruption.