Too early to celebrate record approved investments for 2023, says PKR MP

Petaling Jaya MP Lee Chean Chung says the foreign investments have yet to be fully realised.

(FMT) – A PKR MP has cautioned against “prematurely” celebrating Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s announcement of the record approved investment of RM329.5 billion in 2023 as a government achievement.

In a statement, Petaling Jaya MP Lee Chean Chung discussed the apparent contradiction between the depreciation of the ringgit against the US dollar and the record-high approved investment in Malaysia.

“First, approved foreign investment is merely the FDIs that were approved to enter Malaysia but likely yet to reach our shores. It’s just committed investments that, due to several factors, have yet to materialise.

“So, it is still too early to celebrate the success until the time gap is shortened, for example, factories are built, offices are filled with employees, and the production lines are running,” he said.

After chairing a National Investment Council meeting yesterday, Anwar said Malaysia saw a record-high of RM329.5 billion in approved investments last year

Anwar, who is also the finance minister, said last year’s figure was 23% higher than 2022’s total of RM264.6 billion.

In his statement, Lee also pointed out that the country’s overnight policy rate is still low at 3%, compared to the US’s 5.5%.

He said this encourages investors to hold onto their funds in US dollars rather than converting them to ringgit until there is a need to do so.

“The value of a currency is determined by aggregate supply and demand. When most parties prefer to hold the US dollar, the ringgit will be pressured to depreciate,” he said.

3 strategies proposed

Describing reverting to a capital control regime as a “no-brainer”, Lee proposed three strategies to address the country’s situation.

Lee, who is a member of the parliamentary select committee on economy and finance, called for stricter monitoring of dollar purchases by importers and expediting local approval processes for FDIs.

“While the political stunts continued to be played by the opposition clearly doesn’t help, it is also time for the unity government to monitor the implementation of National Energy Transition Roadmap, MyDigital and the aspiration of National Industrial Master Plan at the micro level.

“In the long term, it is about investing and feeling hopeful about the future of Malaysia,” he said.