Tengku Zafrul says efforts are underway to rebuild the economy and support from all segments is important in making the plan a success
by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN/ pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN
THE government is drawing up new measures that will be “robust and comprehensive” to tackle the devastating economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture) said.
In his weekly address on his Facebook page yesterday, Tengku Zafrul said efforts are underway to rebuild the economy battered by a nationwide partial lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“We have embarked on a plan towards short-, medium- and long-term economic recovery. We are in the middle of engaging with stakeholders to ensure the plan is robust and comprehensive. The support from all segments of society is important in making the plan a reality and a success,” he said.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin last week announced that the government would study methods to revive the economy in stages following the extension of the Movement Control Order (MCO) by another two weeks.
He said this includes crafting a recovery plan over the short and medium terms to ensure economic activity can be revived quickly at the end of the MCO. The movement curb began on March 18.
Muhyiddin said the MCO had cost the economy RM2.4 billion daily. Collectively, the four MCO phases would total 55 days, which amount to an overall loss of RM132 billion.
Based on the latest forecast by the central bank, Malaysia’s economy is expected to shrink by as much as 2% or grow 0.5%.
Also included in Tengku Zafrul’s address were updates on the stimulus package. The latest details on the implementation status of the RM260 billion stimulus package are as follows:
As of April 26, the government has received over 3.26 million new applications and appeals for Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN). All requests should be made before April 30. The BPN payment is expected to be made next week once they are verified and approved.
To date, a total of 7.74 million eligible recipients have received their payment worth RM5.47 billion. Payments via cash have been distributed through Bank Simpanan Nasional branches to over 157,000 individuals who do not own a bank account. This process began on April 17. For Phase 2, BPN payments to all eligible recipients in the lower- and middle-income groups will be made from May 4.
Prihatin Grant for Micro Enterprises
Application for this grant will be open on May 1 and will be managed by the Inland Revenue Board. Eligible micro businesses will receive a grant of RM3,000 each.
Wage Subsidy Programme
As of April 26, the number of approved applications for the wage subsidy programme has risen to 195,000 employers involving 1.5 million workers. This amounts to a fund of RM1.35 billion. The government has allocated RM13.8 billion for this initiative.
BNM Fund for SMEs
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has allocated RM6.3 billion to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sustain their businesses and preserve jobs. As of April 26, some RM4.5 billion has been approved for 8,500 SMEs. This is an increase from RM2.7 billion for 5,000 SMEs last week.
EPF Introduces e-CAP for SMEs
The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) has recently launched the Employer Covid-19 Assistance Programme (e-CAP) to help SMEs manage their monthly cashflow and retain their workforce.
e-CAP allows eligible SMEs flexibility to choose to apply for a deferment and restructuring of the employer’s share of EPF contributions for the months of April, May and/or June 2020. The deferred contribution for the month of choice can then be settled over a maximum period of three months.
The e-CAP measure complements other coronavirus-related initiatives that have been announced by the EPF, including the reduction of the employee’s share of contributions from 11% to 7% and the i-Lestari withdrawal facility that allows withdrawals from Account 2.
One-off Payments for Pensioners, Students
The one-off aid of RM500 for 2.5 million civil servants and pensioners, including veterans, was made on April 23. Students in higher learning institutions have also begun receiving their one-off RM200 assistance since April 27. The effort is expected to benefit 1.5 million students nationwide.
GLC Disaster Response Network
Several government-linked companies, government-linked investment companies and the private sector have collectively contributed RM 95.4 million to GLC Disaster Response Network and other Covid-19 relief efforts.
Out of the total contribution, RM79.8 million has been used to support hospitals under the Ministry of Health to purchase medical supplies and RM 15.6 million has been spent on non-medical related humanitarian aid assistance. This includes 138 ventilators, 56,000 face masks, 69,000 medical gloves and over 1,700 personal protective equipment.
Detailed listing of the distribution locations, among other information, can be found at GLC Disaster Response Network’s recently launched website https://gdrnbantu.online/.