Assistance packages benefited millions of Malaysians, businesses

PUTRAJAYA – A total of 20 million Malaysians and 2.4 million businesses have benefited from government stimulus aid packages implemented throughout last year, said Finance Minister Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.

He said the assistance involved financial injections worth RM182 billion.

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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic early last year, the government has implemented four economic stimulus packages worth RM305 billion or more than 20 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to help Malaysians and businesses as well as to protect the country’s economy.

“If needed, the government will continue to help as we have done before,” he said during a special briefing about the Malaysian Economic and Rakyat’s Protection Assistance Package (PERMAI) here today.

On Monday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the the RM15 billion PERMAI assistance package comprising 22 initiatives to combat COVID-19.

It is anchored on three goals, namely battling COVID-19, safeguarding the welfare of the people and supporting the continuity of business.

The first Perikatan Nasional government package under Muhyiddin’s leadership that was announced on March 27, 2020 was the Prihatin Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN), totalling RM250 billion, had benefited Malaysians.

It was followed by the Prihatin Package for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) (Additional Measures) on April 6, 2020, National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA) on Jun 5, 2020 and the Prihatin Supplementary Initiative Package (KITA PRIHATIN) on Sept 23, 2020.

According to Tengku Zafrul, the size of short-term and long-term economic recovery plans were as big as the country’s Budget.

So far, 44 initiatives have been fully implemented while 32 are still ongoing, he said.

“This year we are at the fifth step (revitalise) through Budget 2021, the biggest ever in our country’s history. It includes the RM17 billion COVID-19 fund,” he said.

Tengku Zafrul said there were also initiatives without direct injections that were not taken into account in Budget 2021.

The Finance Minister said some efforts had been affected not only by the rise in COVID-19 cases that led to the enforcement of the Movement Control Order recently but also the floods that hit eight states and displaced over 64,000 people.

Ministry to implement initiatives

The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) meanwhile will be implementing 29 targeted initiatives to assist the business community through the COVID-19 Pandemic Caring Programme.

Its Minister, Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi in a statement today said the initiatives cover two categories which is moratorium and stimulating the economy.

He said the moratorium category included a reduction of up to 60 per cent on compounds issued by the ministry for certain offences, extension of free registration period for BizTrust of the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) up to Dec 31 2021 and reduction in compound for application to cancel companies under Section 549/550 of the Companies Act 2016 until Jun 30 2021.

“Measures under the category to stimulate the economy would include the “Franchise @ Marketplace” Programme; rented kiosk or push carts at selected supermarkets as well as extending the valid period for permit holders of control goods from one year to three years and the permit of special control goods from six months to a year, he said.

According to Nanta, all initiatives are aimed at enhancing growth in the domestic industry sector apart from facilitating work process in line with the requirements of new normal during the post-COVID-19 era.

Apart from that, KPDNHEP is also amending several acts under the purview of the ministry to improve the rehabilitation and rescue mechanism of companies facing financial problems, he said.

Committed

The Social Security Organisation (Socso) in a related development, has said that it is committed to the swift implementation of improved assistance for employers and workers, as contained in the Malaysian Economic and Rakyat’s Protection Assistance Package (PERMAI) announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday.

Socso, in a statement today, said that the improvements include the Wage Subsidy Programme 3.0 (PSU 3.0), SIP Prihatin, SPS Lindung, and the COVID-19 Screening Programme for Foreign Workers.

“These improvements are in line with the announcement of PERMAI by the prime minister yesterday, that all assistance and benefits from the government are to be channelled immediately to those affected by the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO),” it said.

It also said that, through the PSU 3.0, all sectors are eligible to receive a wage subsidy of RM600 per month for each employee earning less than RM4,000 for a period of one month, while for the tourism and retail sectors the period is extended to six months.

“With an additional allocation of RM1 billion, the government has increased the limit from 200 to 500 employees per application, with 250,000 employers employing more than 2.6 million workers expected to benefit from this initiative,” it said.

The job search allowance has been improved and extended under the SIP Prihatin programme in the Budget 2021 for those who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Terms relaxed

Conditions for applying for the job search allowance under SIP Prihatin have also been relaxed, enabling employees who do not meet the minimum contribution qualification, or who have not extended their service contract after renewal has been made at least three times, to now apply for assistance of a maximum of 30 per cent of their salary for three months, it said.

Socso also called on delivery riders, who are also at the front line during the MCO, to immediately register under the SPS Lindung for protection in the event of a work-related accident.

“Under this programme, the government provides full contributions for them for one year through Plan 2 of the Self-Employment Social Security Scheme as protection against occupation-related injuries,” it said.

Socso also said that the COVID-19 Screening Programme for Registered Foreign Workers will also continue, where the cost of supplying test kits will be fully borne by Socso in the targeted high-risk zones to identify COVID-19 clusters in the workplace.

To date, Socso said, only 18 per cent of foreign workers registered with Socso have undergone COVID-19 screening tests under the programme.

In this regard, Socso urged employers who have yet to send their foreign workers to undergo COVID-19 screening tests to immediately make an appointment with the clinics involved in the programme.