Malaysia Says No Plans to Repeg Ringgit Currency

Malaysia's new Finance Minister Najib Razak on Monday dismissed calls for the ringgit currency to be pegged and said the country's economy remained in good shape despite the U.S. financial crisis.


"I wish to categorically state we have no intention to repeg the ringgit," Najib told a press conference after a briefing from the finance ministry and central bank on his first day in office.

Following Najib's comments, the ringgit retreated from a two-week high it had hit earlier in the day.

The proposal to repeg the ringgit was made at the weekend by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, an opponent of incumbent Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. It was Mahathir who pegged the currency in 1998 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.

Najib is also deputy prime minister and has been nominated by Abdullah to take over as head of the ruling coalition from 2010.

"The Malaysian economy is still resilient because of strong fundamentals and limited exposure to the global financial markets," he said.

Malaysia is grappling with a rising budget deficit, set to hit 4.8 percent of gross domestic product, high inflation which hit a near-27 year high of 8.5 percent in July and capital outflows due to rising political risk.

The ruling coalition is being challenged by a resurgent opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister and finance minister, who was dismissed by Mahathir.