Implementation of stimulus on track, says Tengku Zafrul

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

THE vast majority of households and individuals who are eligible for funds under the government’s RM260 billion spending package have received their payments, said Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture).

In an address on his Facebook page yesterday, Tengku Zafrul said the rollout of the government stimulus package — nearly 18% of the country’s GDP — is on track with over two-thirds of the Prihatin Rakyat economic stimulus package valued at RM180 billion in effect as of April 12.

This includes the six-month moratorium on bank loans worth RM100 billion, withdrawals under the Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) i-Lestari (RM40 billion), wage subsidy scheme (RM13.8 billion), lower employees’ contribution to the EPF (RM10 billion), one-off Prihatin National Aid payments (RM10 billion) and Bank Negara Malaysia’s special relief fund for small and medium enterprises or SMEs (RM5 billion).

The remaining RM66 billion of the stimulus package will be disbursed in May, Tengku Zafrul said. This will include Danajamin Nasional Bhd’s RM50 billion credit guarantee scheme, restructured or rescheduled employers’ contribution to the EPF worth RM10 billion, the continuation of small-scale government projects (RM4 billion) and a special grant for all qualified micro-SMEs (RM2.1 billion).

To date, a total of RM8.6 billion of the RM35 billion additional government expenditure under the Prihatin package or 25% of the stimulus package has been disbursed to ministries and government agencies.

Details on the implementation status of the stimulus package are as follows:

Prihatin National Aid

Some 8.3 million eligible recipients have been identified and approved as of April 12. Out of the total, 6.6 million have received their payment worth an overall RM4.9 billion. There were also 2.77 million new applications made and 274,000 appeals put forward.

Phase One of the cash payment has benefitted 3.2 million (96.6%) low-income households and 3.4 million (92.3%) single individuals in the bottom 40% income quadrant. The amount that has been disbursed stood at RM3.2 billion and RM1.7 billion respectively.

This week, another RM750 million will be channelled to about 1.5 million recipients.

One-off Payments for Taxi Drivers, Rickshaw Pullers

Over the same period, about 25,000 (86%) of taxi drivers have received their RM600 one-off incentive.

Another 7,500 (63%) tourist drivers have also received the payment, while all rickshaw pullers have benefitted from the direct cash aid.

Special Monthly Allowance for Frontliners

A total of 200,000 medical officers and frontline officials will receive a monthly allowance of RM600 and RM200 respectively beginning this month.

Incentive for E-hailing Drivers

The government has lowered the minimum wage requirement from RM2,000 per month to RM1,200 per month to ensure that many e-hailing drivers will benefit from the scheme.

Over 40 e-hailing companies have provided the necessary information on more than 90,000 drivers who qualify for the aid. The government will make the one-off RM500 payment on April 20.

Recruitment of Additional Medical Staff

The government plans to recruit 2,000 additional medical staff to support frontliners in the fight against Covid-19. As of April 12, a total of 1,974 medical officials of various grades have been drafted.

Special Relief Fund

The central bank has prepared a number of financial facilities including a RM5 billion special relief fund to help business owners manage short-term cashflow issues due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Nearly 3,000 applications have been approved. About RM1.46 billion (30%) of the fund have been allotted.

EPF’s i-Lestari programme

Under i-Lestari, depositors are allowed to withdraw RM500 per month for 12 months from their second EPF account.

As of April 12, the fund has received 1.28 million applications. Out of the total, 1.17 million have been approved, which will result in a withdrawal of RM572 million in May. Further withdrawals are expected in the next few months.

Wage Subsidy

The government has allocated RM13.8 billion for this initiative. To date, about 31,000 employers have applied for the subsidy involving 299,000 workers.

Some 98% of the applicants are small businesses with a work staff of less than 75 persons. This is expected to involve a fund of RM307 million.

Employee Retention Programme

The stimulus package includes an allocation of RM120 million to support employees on unpaid leave.

As of April 12, 6,900 business owners have made the application for 47,000 workers. Some RM28.6 million will be needed to fulfil these applications.