KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 Malaysia's central bank
on Thursday projected that the economy will grow 4.3-4.8 percent
this year, more than the 4.2 percent reported for 2016.
The target, if achieved, would reverse two years of slowing
growth and provides a boost for Prime Minister Najib Razak, who
might call elections as early as the second half of this year.
"With the gradual improvement in global growth, recovery in
global commodity prices and the continued growth of domestic
demand are expected to collectively support Malaysia's growth
performance," Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said in its annual
The central bank forecast 2017 headline inflation at 3-4
percent, compared with 2.1 percent last year.
It said that for the ringgit currency, "volatile
conditions are expected to continue as uncertainties on global
growth, global monetary policy and global commodity prices
Policymakers "will continue to focus on ensuring the
domestic financial and foreign exchange markets reflect the
developments in the Malaysian economy," the central bank said.
The report said government's fiscal deficit expected to
narrow to 3 percent of the GDP in 2017 versus 3.1 percent in
(Reporting by Praveen Menon and Joseph Sipalan; Editing by