PUTRAJAYA, Feb 24 (Bernama) -- The 4.5 per cent growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) achieved in the fourth quarter of last year is unexpected, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The growth stemmed from strengthened domestic and external demand," said Najib, who is also Finance Minister, when announcing the economic performance for the quarter Wednesday.
Last year, the country's economic growth contracted to minus 1.7 per cent, lower than the projected three per cent, he said.
The economy recorded a contraction in three quarters -- 6.2 per cent in the first quarter, 3.9 per cent in second quarter and 1.2 per cent in third quarter, he said.
Asked for this year's forecast, Najib said: "We are quite bullish about this."
On whether the worst was over for the country's economy, he said that it was over provided that nothing seriously unexpected with respect to the global economy.
"For example, any major sovereign collapse barring unforeseen circumstances of that nature, we could safely say that we have recovered from the crisis and we should be looking forward to a strong growth for 2010."
nampaknya ada possibility interest rate nak naik nih..kena la bayar higher amount for housing loan utk sesapa yg based on BFR/BLR huhu
As to whether the country could achieve 5.0 per cent growth this year, he said: "Can".
"Earlier forecast is about 4.0 per cent for this year. I'm hoping I can achieve one or two per cent more than that.
"(We are) Going all out to make sure we are able to generate confidence, speedy implementation of projects and encourage the private sector to invest with higher consumer confidence.
"We should make good this year in terms of economic performance." he said.
Najib said the accelerated implementation of the government's two stimulus packages has been a key factor in contributing to the economic recovery.
To date, over 113,000 projects under the two stimulus packages have and are being implemented, involving a total value of RM17 billion.
Of the total, the government has made a payment OF RM13.9 billion, on average the government has pumped approximately RM1 billion a month into the market from January 2009.
"One of the main reasons why our ability to spend about a billion a month in 2009 is because we have this special monitoring unit attached to the Ministry of Finance.
"It did not exist before but this unit was working flat out and engaging with implementing ministries and central agencies to make sure all the programmes carried out under the two packages are implemented speedily.
"This is one of the main reasons why we have managed to achieve more than expected in terms of economic growth," he said.
Sustained growth in private consumption expenditure and increased public sector spending contributed to higher domestic demand, which recorded a three per cent growth in the fourth quarter as compared with 0.4 per cent in the third quarter, said Najib.
He said private consumption growth was supported by better conditions in the labour market, low inflation rate and higher spending for the year-end school holiday period and festive season.
The prime minister said the public sector continued its key role of providing impetus to growth during the quarter.
Public sector consumption expenditure expanded further by 1.3 per cent while public sector capital spending increased substantially as the implementation of projects under the fiscal stimulus packages gained further momentum during the quarter.
During the quarter, the development expenditure of the Federal Government amounted to RM17.6 billion, an increase of 9.5 per cent compared with the fourth quarter of 2008.
Najib said there were emerging signs of stabilisation in private sector capital spending in the fourth quarter last year, as business sentiments continued to improve.
This, together with the higher public sector capital spending, contributed to the turnaround in total gross fixed capital formation, which registered a positive growth of 8.2 per cent during the quarteras compared with a negative 7.9 per cent growth in the previous quarter.
On the external sector, Najib said Malaysia's exports performance recovered to record a positive growth of 5.1 per cent, supported by improvements in external demand, particularly from regional economies and from stronger commodity prices.
Malaysia also continued to receive foreign direct investments, he said, adding that in the fourth quarter of 2009, gross inflows of FDI increased to RM7.2 billion as compared with RM6.7 billion in the third quarter, with investments mainly in the manufacturing and services sectors.
On the supply side, Najib said all economic sectors recorded improved performance during the fourth quarter.