How much for the small man? During a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister on the same day he announced the 0.1 per cent GDP growth for the last quarter, he told us that the biggest personal challenge for him ensure that the smaller-income guy and his family get through the global economic meltdown smoothly.
He was talking about the average wage earner who takes home RM2000 or less, each month who's not able to earn more from overtime work because his employer can't afford it, who does not have other means of income to supplement his household of five. Najib said we are looking at a U-shape downturn, which means the economy may stay down for a longer period than if it was the usual V-shape slowdown.
The talk then was that the MoF would announce a RM10 billion stimulus package and everybody spoke of how small it was. Now, the RM60 billion package that Najib announced at Parliament this afternoon looks more like it (the Bernama story here, Najib's full speech here).
But you can't please everybody: someone asked me on the phone as I climbed down from Bukit Aman just after 5pm (for a follow-up "interview") if the Government really had RM60 billion to spend! I want to see how it's going to benefit the smaller-income guy and his family.
By the way, did you hear talk that Daim Zainuddin was coming back in some advisory capacity to the Government? Daim and I didn't go along very well when I was the Business Times editor and he was Economic Advisor to the Government, but other than Dr Mahathir thye say there's probably no other who'd spur greater confidence in the Malaysian economy than the (so-called) "Shorty".