Penjana to adopt several Prihatin measures

Several initiatives under Prihatin will now be subsumed under Penjana for more effective implementation to benefit the targeted groups

by DASHVEENJIT KAUR/ pic by BERNAMA

THE government will subsume several Prihatin Nasional initiatives under the latest short-term National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) for a more effective implementation to benefit the targeted groups.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture) said in total, both the Prihatin and Penjana packages were worth RM295 billion, with RM45 billion in the form of direct fiscal injection by the government.

“There are various Prihatin measures that will run until June and some until September 2020.

“As announced by the prime minister last week, measures under Prihatin have saved over 2.4 million jobs; while over 11 million people received assistance to ease their cashflow burden, and over 300,000 companies supported,” he said when presenting the eighth report of the Prihatin Rakyat economic stimulus package yesterday.

The RM35 billion Penjana package is a short-term economic recovery plan for the period of June to December 2020.

“To empower the rakyat, the focus is on employment and the government has allocated almost RM9 billion to benefit three million workers. As for businesses, there are various initiatives to assist large companies, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and micro enterprises.

“I would like to emphasise that the Prihatin measures will be implemented concurrently with those under Penjana, while several initiatives under Prihatin will now be subsumed under Penjana for more effective implementation to benefit the targeted groups,” he added.

The first one, according to Tengku Zafrul, is the Social Security Organisation (Socso) Employment Retention Programme (ERP).

He noted that as of June 5, more than 202,000 employees received more than RM240 million under the ERP, double the original allocation of RM120 million.

“During the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) period, which ended June 9, the government found that ERP applications had declined, from 15,000 per week in April to about 300 applications per week in early June.

“This decline was in line with the gradual opening of the economy in early May, which recently saw over 12.7 million, or 83.5% of workers beginning to return to work,” he said.

Additionally, Tengku Zafrul said the government has decided to consolidate the ERP into the Wage Subsidy Programme (WSP), which has now been expanded under Penjana.

From June 15 onwards, the WSP will allow employers to apply for wage subsidy for their workers who have been put on unpaid leave.

Wage subsidies are also aimed at helping workers in the tourism and other sectors prohibited from operating during the CMCO.

“As this assistance is provided to those who are working and those put on unpaid leave, the WSP which has been extended for a further three months, is expected to help employers retain more workers and save jobs,” he added.

The second initiative is the consolidation of facilities and financial assistance for businesses including SMEs whereby under Prihatin, RM7 billion in financing to help SMEs was provided through Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and financial institutions.

These include the Special Relief Facility (SRF), Agrofood Facility, and Automation and Digitalisation Fund, as well as micro-credit schemes.

“Under Penjana, the government acknowledges SMEs’ complaints about being unable to receive some assistance, such as the SRF, which was applied for (and utilised) pretty quickly,” he said.

The allocations under Penjana worth RM10.95 billion, are specially for SMEs and micro-businesses.

“To that end, given the many various agencies involved in disbursing different types of financing assistance, the government has decided to coordinate all government financing programmes for businesses under Penjana.

“Both, Prihatin and Penjana measures and initiatives will be implemented in tandem for the benefit of the rakyat. The Laksana unit at the Ministry of Finance will continue to monitor and ensure the smooth, transparent and accurate implementation of both plans,” Tengku Zafrul said.

Progress on BSH:

Overall, out of the 10.6 million approved recipients for the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BSH), 96.7% or 10.4 million had received payments amounting to RM10.78 billion.

Tengku Zafrul said for appeal cases, the decision will be announced in mid-June.

EPF i-Lestari programme and reduction in employees’ EPF contribution rate:

As at June 5, 4.1 million applications were approved, an increase from the four million reported previously. This amounted to RM1.94 billion in withdrawals per month.

As for the reduction in employees’ Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contribution rate from 11% to 7% as at June 5, over 5.7 million employees opted to lower their contribution rate.

“Total reduction in contribution received by EPF members to date is RM1.87 billion. Meanwhile, the total number of contributors who have chosen to maintain their contribution at 11% is currently at 1.85 million,” he said.

Wage subsidy:

A total of RM4 billion was approved for 293,033 employers benefit- ting 2.3 million employees, as of June 5, 2020.

This represents an increase of RM780 million approved for 100,000 employees, compared to two weeks ago.

ERP and EPF’s e-CAP:

On the ERP managed by Socso, Tengku Zafrul said the value of RM121 million was approved for 202,000 employees as of June 5.

Meanwhile, the EPF’s Covid-19 Assistance Programme (e-CAP) for employers, 29,601 applications had been received and 6,500 applications were approved, represent- ing RM42.9 million in terms of employer’s contribution, compared to RM34.8 million recorded one week ago.

SME soft loan funds:

The soft loan funds for SMEs under BNM supervision have seen an amount of RM7.5 billion approved by local banks and officially accepted by 18,227 SMEs.

This amount includes funds from the SRF and Agrofood facility.

Micro SMEs Prihatin special grant:

Tengku Zafrul said of the 81,260 applications reviewed by the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (LHDN), 44% or 35,800 applications have been approved.

He said for the approved applications, payment will be made by end-June.

“The appeal period is still open until June 15 via the LHDN’s official portal.

“LHDN has shared with us the reasons for rejection, such as incorrectly completed forms — for example, companies registered as ‘private limited’ were stated as a ‘partnership’. In the appeals portal, appellants may submit the relevant company certificate for LHDN’s consideration. I hope micro business owners will seize this opportunity to appeal,” he added.