Kuala Lumpur, Aug 27 — The re-appointment of Tengku Zafrul Aziz as finance minister reflects positivity for capital markets, businesses, and the society at large as it instills a sense of confidence in policy continuity, says Bank Islam Malaysia chief economist Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid.
He said with the former banker remaining in the Cabinet, there would be policy continuity and clarity on the country’s fiscal policy direction.
“This means the government’s stand on the prevailing fiscal policy is likely to be expansionary as the country’s economy is still negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he told Bernama.
During his tenure, Zafrul was also appointed as National Recovery Plan (NRP) coordinating minister to monitor the implementation of strategies and assistance measures as well as to take proactive steps in dealing with the Covid-19-triggered health and economic crisis.
He was also in charge of the Economic Stimulus Implementation and Coordination Unit Between National Agencies (Laksana).
Afzanizam said Zafrul’s re-appointment was crucial especially with the country still struggling with the pandemic.
“The appropriate measures in particular on the right stimulus to be prescribed are critically important to ensure that the Malaysian economy will able to recover swiftly,” he added.
Overall, he said it was a positive move by the prime minister as there would be a presence of technocrats such as Zafrul heading the ministry.
On other portfolios, he said the appointment of Khairy Jamaluddin as health minister was also a good choice as he has a proven track record in the science, technology, and innovation ministry regarding the vaccination program.
“In that sense, it should allay concerns among the general public on our struggle to combat the pandemic spread and to engineer a swift economic recovery going forward,” he said.
He said it was important to ensure that the economy would be reopened fairly soon with an eye on the state of healthcare capacity and the spread of Covid-19.
Universiti Malaya senior lecturer Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub said the reappointment of Zafrul as finance minister was a clear signal that he had shown excellent performance before and should be retained to continue the economic recovery process planned by the government.
“The appointment of Khairy as health minister is right and appropriate.
“I expect the people to welcome this appointment as we need a young person of caliber who can handle the Covid-19 pandemic in our country regardless of politicking to ensure the health and safety of the people,” he said.
They said a special minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Sabah and Sarawak affairs was also proof that the new government was mainstreaming the voice of Borneo.
Tawfik however said there would be no “honeymoon” period for the Cabinet as it faces stiff challenges and obstacles in terms of health, economy, and politics.
“The Cabinet must restore the people’s confidence immediately through a new and extraordinary strategy to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic and the economy.
“This is actually an important formula for creating political stability and key recovery that needs to be given immediate attention by the government,” he said.
Tawfik also described the Cabinet as a peace Cabinet to ease internal political tensions between the component parties that form the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
“For me, this Cabinet should be given the opportunity to prove that they are capable of carrying out more stern and aggressive tasks,” he said.