Govt to announce stimulus package, MySalam expanded to M40 group

The announcement will be made by the PM either at the end of this month or early next month, says finance minister

by ASILA JALIL/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

THE government will announce the economic stimulus package at the end of this month or early March after holding a series of meetings with relevant parties.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the announcement will be made by Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad once it is ready.

“We will get input from everyone and the announcement will be made by the PM either at the end of this month or early next month.

“We had a closed-door meeting yesterday (Monday) about it where we met for three hours and we will have a series of further meetings. This is a stimulus package, so we have to be ready,” he told a press conference after launching the expansion of MySalam scheme in Putrajaya yesterday.

Lim previously said the country was not facing a recession despite its plan to expedite the implementation of the stimulus package following the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak.

Last week, Dr Mahathir announced that Putrajaya was looking to launch the package to boost the country’s economy due to challenges posed by coronavirus.

He had also singled out the tourism industry as one of the most affected by the outbreak, adding that the government has plans to mitigate the outbreak’s impact on the economy.

On the increased production of face masks, Lim said the matter regarding its purchase is currently handled by the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA).

“They feel this is a serious enough case to be taken over by NADMA, and now they have taken over the purchase of these three-ply face masks,” he said.

Local manufacturers have given their commitment to increase the production of three-ply face masks up to 400,000 pieces daily to meet the public’s demand.

Meanwhile, the registration process for the middle 40% (M40) income group to apply for the MySalam scheme goes on until March 31, 2020.

Lim said the benefits have been expanded to include the M40 as the government is also aware of the financial challenges the group faces especially when they are faced with health emergencies.

“Overall, the government expects that the expansion of the scheme will benefit eight million individuals in 2020,” he said.

The benefits for the M40 income group are for those who earn not more than RM100,000 a year and include a one-time RM4,000 payout for 45 critical illnesses, as well as RM50 daily hospitalisation income replacement up to 14 days, when they are admitted to the government hospitals, university hospitals and military hospitals.

Separately, Lim said the dispute on the original cost for the Sarawak portion of the Pan Borneo Highway (PBH) project occurred because certain quarters had alleged that the total cost for the projet is only RM16.5 billion, without including other costs in the development.

Lim said the estimated cost for the project, which is currently at RM18.8 billion, was tabled to the Cabinet ministers last year.

“Other costs that were not mentioned included project delivery partner (PDP) reimbursable cost, PDP fees, contingency cost, land acquisition and independent consulting engineer cost, which made the original total cost for the project amounted to RM21.9 billion,” he said in the statement.

The government is expected to save RM3.1 billion following the termination of the PDP agreement for the development of the Sarawak portion of the PBH.