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Malaysia Govt says pushing through $2 bln fiscal boost

Malaysia's government is pushing through its $2 billion spending package, the country's deputy prime minister said on Thursday, after complaints that the money was not getting through.

world Updated: Jan 22, 2009 11:17 IST

Malaysia's government is pushing through its $2 billion spending package, the country's deputy prime minister said on Thursday, after complaints that the money was not getting through.

"The entire 7 billion Malaysian ringgit ($1.94 billion) will thus be in the hands of the ministries and agencies and they have to take immediate action," Najib Razak, who is also finance minister told reporters, according to state news agency Bernama.

Businesses have criticised the government for being slow to spend the money, which was mainly diverted from a fuel subsidy programme, in its efforts to mitigate the effects of an economic downturn.

"I think if you look at the comment by the Works Minister, he says that only 120 million (ringgit) of money has been disbursed so far of the 7 billion (ringgit) stimulus package so that basically tells you something in terms of the delivery system is not up to the mark," Peck Boon Soon, an official at a Chinese business lobby group, said on Wednesday.

Malaysia's government is still predicting that the economy will grow 3.5 per cent this year, though many private sector economists warn the country will enter its first recession in eight years.

It has said it plans a second fiscal boost, but details have not emerged on either the size or the timing of the package.

On Wednesday, the central bank delivered a much larger than expected 75 basis point rate cut, reducing its key rate to 2.5 per cent as it sought to boost domestic demand to offset slowing exports.

Malaysia exports around 100 per cent of gross domestic product and exports have fallen for two successive months.

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