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Malaysia sets higher economic growth target for 2017
2016/10/24 15:24:55 Source:Xinhua

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Friday that he expected the country's gross domestic product (GDP) to expand 4-5 percent in 2017, up from this year's 4-4.5 percent.

Najib set the growth target during his annual budget speech at the parliament as the Southeast Asian country continued to reduce its dependence on oil and gas.

He said the government's revenues on oil and gas have been reduced from 41.3 percent in 2009 to 14.6 percent of the total in 2016.

"As a result of further diversification of our economy, the growth has been resilient and sustained despite the recent decline in oil prices by almost 50 percent," said Najib.

Najib, who also serves as the finance minister, said in an economic report earlier that the country expects Brent crude oil price to rise to 45 U.S. dollars in 2017.

During the budget speech, Najib said the budget for 2017 will stand at 260.8 billion ringgit (62.4 billion U.S. dollars), an increase of 3.4 percent from 2016.

He pledged to achieve the fiscal deficit target of 3 percent of GDP in 2017, compared with 3.1 percent in this year.

The prime minister also defended the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), saying it was a "right decision" though the measure was not popular among the people.

According to Najib, GST collection has reached nearly 30 billion ringgit as of Wednesday, but he promised there will be no GST rate hike in 2017.

To support economic growth in the next year, Najib also revealed a series of public projects, including the East Coast Rail Line project, a 600-km railway estimated to cost 55 billion ringgit and a highway linking the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak.

He pledged to install street lamps, build bridges and upgrade transportation infrastructure in rural areas.

In addition, the government will provide a 10-billion-ringgit subsidy, comprising of fuel subsidies including for cooking gas, toll charges, public transport and various incentives.

Najib also weighed in on the tug of war between taxi drivers and ride-sharing drivers, proposing that ride-sharing drivers who don't have cars can have a rebate of up to 4,000 ringgit if they buy home-made cars.

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