GEORGE TOWN: Malaysians need to be patient while the new government attempts to restore the fiscal position of the country, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said on Monday (Jan 21).
It would take three years to do so following the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, he added.
"When the country’s fiscal position has been restored, we will slowly progress, and we hope that the people can have the patience," Lim said while addressing Hindu devotees at the Penang Waterfall Hilltop Temple, in conjunction with Thaipusam celebrations.
Restoring the country's fiscal position is not easy following the loss of billions, he said. But the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government would strive to "deliver the promises" they had made to Malaysians.
Earlier this month, Japanese bank Nomura downgraded Malaysian stocks from "neutral" to "underweight", saying that the Pakatan Harapan government's lack of a significant reform push could lead to a worsening fiscal position and a possible slip in credit ratings.
It also said that Malaysia's 2018 fiscal deficit would deteriorate to 3.9 per cent of gross domestic product.
Lim has refuted Nomura's claims as untrue, saying that the Malaysian government is confident of achieving fiscal deficits of 3.7 per cent in 2018 and 3.4 per cent in 2019.
Just days before that on the eve of the new year, Lim said Malaysia's economic indicators were very encouraging despite the PH administration being a new government.
Among others, he pointed out that Malaysia’s foreign direct investment increased by 250 per cent to RM49 billion (US$11.8 billion) in the first nine months of 2018. Exports also rose to a record RM96.4 billion, he said.