Aug 27, 2015

    Najib unveils special team to maintain growth


    MALAYSIA Prime Minister Najib Razak announced a special economic team yesterday, which he said would ensure continued growth by using immediate and medium-term measures to boost confidence in the ringgit and stocks.

    The Economic Special Committee (JKE) is to be headed by Abdul Wahid Omar, the minister in the Prime Minister's Department, reported The Star.

    It also comprises nine other individuals, including Nor Mohamed Yakcop, a former second finance minister and central bank adviser; CIMB chairman Nazir Razak, who is a brother of the prime minister; Azman Mokhtar, the managing director of sovereign fund Khazanah Nasional; and Maybank chief executive Farid Alias.

    Other members include Andrew Sheng, previously at the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and Malaysia's central bank, and K. Govindan, CEO of RAM Holdings Berhad.

    Mr Najib, who is also finance minister, said that the JKE will "formulate strategies to maintain economic growth through domestic and foreign investment", Reuters reported.

    The JKE is a short-term solution that will be disbanded when the global economy stabilises, said Mr Najib. The committee has been told to act fast to address the current economic situation, including the slide of ringgit, he added.

    According to analysts quoted by Reuters, Malaysia's new economic task force will be inadequate to the task given questions about the debt-ridden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the state investment arm which is suspected to have channelled funds into Mr Najib's personal accounts.

    "There are probably limits to what the committee can do, as a large part of the (stocks) sell-off reflects the politics and 1MDB," said Chua Hak Bin, economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, adding that the absence of central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz was "disturbing" and would limit the committee's options in reviewing economic policies.