KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Thursday (Oct 20) that he expects the economy to improve further in 2017, with growth of up to 5 per cent.
"We commit to ensuring that the economic fundamentals of the nation remain resilient and strong - including policy on deficit targets, spurred economic activity, and the long-term health of the financial system," Najib said in a statement, released a day before the budget announcement on Friday.
He added that the country was on course to grow between 4 and 4.5 per cent this year.
The prime minister said that he would make further announcements on infrastructure, development, public transport and health, fiscal incentives for small and medium enterprises, and human capital and skills training in the 2017 budget.
Najib said next year's budget will also focus on raising the disposable income of the people and provide more affordable housing.
"Despite the challenging global environment, the measures we introduced in last year's budget have helped ensure that the economy remains resilient and continues to grow. We have a plan, and it is working," he said.
Analysts are expecting a populist budget aimed at currying favour with voters, as there is speculation that Najib might call a snap election early next year.
While Najib has been dogged by a multi-billion dollar financial scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd, he could be banking on divisions within the opposition to win another term in office.
In his statement, however, Najib insisted the government would not be delivering an election budget. "This is a commitment budget. Others may put short-term political gain first, but this government will not," he said.