Malaysia's PM Muhyiddin attends briefing on state of economy, coronavirus

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin signing a document on his first day at the prime minister's office in Putrajaya, Malaysia, on March 2, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

PUTRAJAYA - Malaysia's newly-appointed Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Tuesday (March 3) met senior government officials to be briefed on the country's economic situation and the latest developments concerning the Covid-19 coronavirus.

It was his second day in office.

He spent two hours from 9.15am being briefed on these issues at the Prime Minister's Office, Bernama news agency reported.

The Malaysian news agency reported that those attending the economics meeting included Chief Secretary to the Government Mohd Zuki Ali, Treasury secretary-general Ahmad Badri Mohd Zahir and Economic Affairs secretary-general Saiful Anuar Lebai Hussen.

Officials attending the briefing on the coronavirus included Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki, Health Ministry's director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah, Immigration director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud, Foreign Affairs secretary-general M. Shahrul Ikram Yaakob, and National Disaster Management Agency director-general Mohtar Mohd Abd Rahman.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin, 72, was sworn in as the country's eighth prime minister on Sunday (March 1) and clocked in for work as prime minister for the first time on Monday.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office said in the meeting on the economy, the premier stressed the need for prudent spending and the reduction of "leakages" - a Malaysian slang for corruption - to ensure that the country's finances remain strong.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian central bank on Tuesday cut its key interest rate to the lowest in 10 years, Reuters reported, to reduce the impact of the coronavirus oubreak on the country's exports and tourism.

Bank Negara Malaysia cut its overnight policy rate by 25 basis points to 2.5 per cent, its second cut to its benchmark rate this year.

The central bank's monetary policy committee said the virus outbreak will weigh on Malaysia's economy, particularly in the first quarter, and add further pressure on full-year growth as the South-east Asian country continues to grapple with weakness in commodity-related sectors.

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