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Malaysia PM Signals Budget 2023 to Stay Largely Intact

(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia’s new Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said he was reviewing the 2023 annual budget presented by his predecessor, while indicating that most of the proposals in there would remain untouched.

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“I think a large part of it is acceptable,” Anwar, who also doubles as the finance minister, told a press conference in Putrajaya after chairing his first cabinet meeting on Monday. “Some people assume we will oppose all of it. No, we can keep the good proposals,” he said.

The previous administration led by Ismail Sabri Yaakob had in October presented a tighter budget for 2023 with a view to narrowing the government’s funding shortfall. Parliament was dissolved before lawmakers could approve that spending plan, placing the onus on Anwar to present a fresh budget in line with his coalition government’s aspirations.

The new administration also has to steer the economy through the pressures of lingering inflation, a weak currency and an unfavorable global economic environment.

Anwar said that he would give space for his finance ministry as well as the cabinet to provide their inputs on what changes and improvements should be made to the budget.

Earlier Monday, Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli said he expected the revised budget to be presented to parliament in one or two months, with “strong focus” on helping the most vulnerable groups in society, he said.

Rafizi, who is part of Anwar’s Pakatan Harapan alliance that had previously opposed the practice of allowing the prime minister to hold the finance portfolio, said the premier’s choice to also oversee the finance ministry was the “right decision for now.”

(Updates with comments from Anwar Ibrahim.)

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