Economist urges govt to focus on economy, Covid-19

It should learn from China, S Korea on handling pandemic: Jomo.

The government should focus on overcoming the pandemic crisis and economic problems faced by the country so that more jobs can be saved, said economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram.

The economy expert said Malaysia should have learned sooner and emulated East Asian countries that have successfully handled the pandemic, such as China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Laos.

“Whoever occupies Putrajaya, they must overcome this problem… China, South Korea, Vietnam, and Laos, some of these countries are poorer than Malaysia but they managed to handle the situation better.

“The danger has not passed and these countries have remained vigilant as we should too,” he said in an online interview recently titled ‘Political and Economic Crisis: What is Malaysia’s Future?’

Jomo also cited the Health Ministry’s statement that the actual infection figures may be four times higher than what was reported.

Hence, the government should not set short-term political calculations that influence health and economic policies, he said.

“The world is facing a big threat. From the economic standpoint, we find that many developing countries will recover slowly but will not return to pre-pandemic levels. The deterioration that has happened may turn into a recession,” he added.

Jomo said among the factors that have contributed to the problem are the high cost of medicines, lab tests, health equipment, and vaccines that are not affordable to much of the world.

“The global vaccine initiative Covax for example is for those who can afford it such as middle-income countries like Malaysia

“If you consider the scenario that many countries cannot afford the vaccine, this would mean the pandemic will prolong and mutations will happen. This is dangerous, there’s a possibility that new variants like Delta will emerge and we cannot control the situation,” he said, noting that many developing countries cannot afford to spend.

“Developing countries find it hard to spend as they think they need to make external borrowings.

“But for economic recovery, internal borrowings are more important to ensure enough liquidity so that the economy can move,” Jomo said, adding that the political crisis in the country will be a major impact on both the economy and efforts to control the pandemic.


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