Anwar Hasn’t Considered Becoming Malaysia Finance Minister Again

(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia’s newly-minted premier Anwar Ibrahim said he hasn’t considered keeping the finance minister portfolio with himself as he goes about deciding key positions in his Cabinet.

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“We will look at all the possibilities but at the moment I have not considered that,” he told reporters after offering his Friday prayers.

Anwar’s choice of finance minister is crucial as surging inflation, a weak currency and the prospect of a global slowdown threaten to undermine Malaysia’s uneven economic rebound. Reducing the burden of rising prices on low- and middle-income groups is the top priority of his administration, Anwar said at a briefing earlier Friday, adding that he would meet relevant government agencies to discuss the matter.

Malaysia’s new administration can signal economic confidence by passing the 2023 federal budget with only necessary tweaks to the spending plan presented in October, publicly supporting the five-year (2021-2025) road map known as the 12th Malaysia Plan and minimizing disruptions in civil service functioning, Apurva Sanghi, the World Bank’s lead economist for the Southeast Asian nation tweeted Thursday.

Anwar was a former finance minister and deputy to Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, before his political rise was cut short after being fired in the wake of the 1997 financial crisis following a fall-out with Mahathir.

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--With assistance from Joy Lee.

(Updates with economist’s comment fourth paragraph.)

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