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December 22, 2008

Malaysia: More stimulus measures in the pipeline
Malaysia will announce more measures in February to boost its economy, as falling tech sales and an expected rise in job cuts raise the spectre of a recession next year, Reuters reported, quoting an influential news website report Monday.

Malaysia has banked on strong Asian and domestic demand to shore up its economy but a deepening global slowdown is triggering doubts about how well it will weather the US-led economic crisis.

The Southeast Asian economy will unveil a series of measures next year and is ready to announce another multi-billion ringgit stimulus package if necessary, the Malaysian Insider said without citing sources.

An aide to Finance Minister Najib Razak said he was unaware of plans for an economic package.

The government has announced a 7 billion ringgit ($2.02 billion) package to stabilise its economy.

Government data shows that 30,000 Malaysians have lost their jobs so far and the Human Resources Ministry -- which expects a jump in unemployment in the first quarter of 2009 -- has asked the cabinet for 100 million ringgit to retrain retrenched workers, the report said.

Government officials have been asked to come up with initiatives to help middle-level management who could lose their jobs by next year and find work for 120,000 new graduates, it said.

Falling demand for the country's key tech exports is hitting the economy.

Western Digital (WDC.N), the world's second-largest maker of computer disk drives, has shut its operations in Malaysia's Sarawak state on Borneo island and laid off all its 1,500 employees.

Malaysia has forecast economic growth of 3.5 percent in 2009, the lowest in eight years.

"We still think that Malaysia will avoid going into a recession next year but nothing is being discounted," the report said quoting an unnamed government official.

"Much will depend on whether our trading partners sink further and the level of confidence in Malaysia."

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