Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has maintained the overnight policy rate (OPR) at 1.75% at its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting today.
In a statement, BNM said the global economic recovery has strengthened further, supported by improvements in manufacturing and services activities.
“The pace of recovery, however, varies across countries.
“Economies making better progress in their vaccination programmes have been able to ease containment measures, enabling a swift recovery in domestic activity.
“In several advanced economies, sizeable fiscal and monetary measures are also supporting a stronger recovery momentum, although activities in some economies are disrupted by tighter containment measures to curb Covid-19 resurgences,” it said.
The central bank said the financial conditions remain supportive of growth while the balance of risks to the growth outlook remains tilted to the downside, due mainly to uncertainty over the path of the pandemic as well as potential risks of heightened financial market volatility.
On the economy, BNM said better-than-expected economic activity in the first quarter of 2021 continued into April, as reflected by the latest indicators, particularly on exports, retail spending and labour market conditions.
The reimposition of nationwide containment measures to curb the resurgence in Covid-19 cases, however, will dampen the growth momentum, wherein the degree of impact on the economy is highly dependent on the stringency and duration of containment measures.
Nevertheless, the central bank said continued allowances for essential economic sectors to operate, albeit at a reduced capacity, and higher adaptability to remote work, automation and digitalisation will partly mitigate the impact of restrictions.
“The various policy support packages will alleviate some of the financial burdens of households and businesses. Favourable external demand conditions will continue to provide a lift to growth.”
Going forward, BNM said the gradual relaxation of containment measures, alongside the rapid progress of the domestic vaccination programme and continued strength in external demand, will provide support for the growth recovery into 2022.
“The growth outlook, however, remains subject to significant downside risks, due mainly to factors that could lead to a delay in the easing of containment measures or imposition of tighter containment measures, and a weaker-than-expected global growth recovery.
“The materialisation of these risks could undermine the growth recovery,” it added.
Meanwhile, headline inflation, as expected, spiked recently due mainly to the base effect from low fuel prices in the second quarter of last year, but this spike is transitory and headline inflation is projected to moderate in the near term as this base effect dissipates.
“For 2021 as a whole, headline inflation is projected to average closer to the lower bound of the forecast range.
“Underlying inflation, as measured by core inflation, is expected to remain subdued, averaging between 0.5% and 1.5% for the year, amid continued spare capacity in the economy. The outlook, however, is subject to global commodity price developments,” it said.
BNM said the MPC considers the stance of monetary policy to be appropriate and accommodative.
In addition, fiscal and financial measures will continue to cushion the economic impact on businesses and households and provide support to economic activity.
“Given the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic, the stance of monetary policy will continue to be determined by new data and information and their implications on the overall outlook for inflation and domestic growth.
“The bank remains committed to utilising its policy levers as appropriate to foster enabling conditions for a sustainable economic recovery,” it said. – Bernama