Prihatin approves wage subsidies totalling RM11.9b

A total of 3,964 SME applications with a loan value of RM899.5m are approved under the Penjana SME Financing scheme

by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by BERNAMA

A TOTAL of RM11.99 billion in wage subsidies has been approved to benefit more than 322,134 employers and over 2.6 million employees through the Wage Subsidy Programme (PSU) under the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package as of Oct 9.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture) said about 3,964 small and medium enterprise (SME) applications with a loan value of RM899.58 million are approved under the Penjana SME Financing scheme.

In his 26th Laksana report on the implementation of the Prihatin and short-term National Economic Recovery Plan, or Penjana, yesterday, Tengku Zafrul said the government has allocated RM2 billion for the facility, with priority given to SMEs that have never received any financing from banks.

He added that RM76.6 million has been disbursed under the Tekun Business Recovery Scheme to benefit 11,546 micro SMEs (MSMEs) involving businesses such as automobile workshops, sundry stores and handicraft manufacturers.

To encourage SMEs and mid-tier companies (MTCs) towards the digitisation of operations and trade channels, a total of RM26.5 million is approved to benefit 1,701 SMEs and MTCs.

“On the Penjana Micro Credit Financing under Bank Simpanan Nasional, a total of RM119.4 million has been disbursed, benefitting 3,266 SMEs and MSMEs in the retail and services sector,” he added.

Tengku Zafrul said about 116,647 claims worth RM9.27 million were received by eligible recipients of the Bantuan Sara Hidup and their registered spouses, aged 40 years and above under the PEKA B40 Health Care Scheme, managed by the Ministry of Health (MoH).

He added that through the scheme, emphasis was given to meet health needs such as the early detection for non-communicable diseases.

Meanwhile, the RM50 e-wallet credit programme, which ended on Sept 30, had benefitted 11.36 million people.

Tengku Zafrul said the programme saw a total of RM567.9 million utilised by the recipients.

“E-wallet providers such as Boost, GrabPay and Touch’ n Go have also contributed benefits in the form of credit matching and various other incentives, amounting to RM433.8 million, in an effort to boost the Malaysian economy,” he added.

He also said the government has provided economic stimulus support to the arts, culture and entertainment sectors.

Among the allocations are RM100 million in the form of loans and RM40 million in the form of grants for the creative industry, events and exhibitions under MyCreative Ventures Sdn Bhd, while another RM10 million in grants is channelled through the Cultural Economy Development Agency (Cendana).

“As of Oct 9, a total of 269 applications from MyCreative Ventures worth RM46.7 million are being considered.

“As for the Cendana initiative, a total of 193 applications are approved worth RM3.5 million, benefitting several areas of art, culture and entertainment, such as digital content development, creative entrepreneurs, as well as writing and publishing,” he said.

Tengku Zafrul said the government has also introduced initiatives to stimulate economic growth in the agriculture and food sectors, which is aimed at injecting financing and providing revolving capital for farmers and fishermen to resume activities post-Movement Control Order.

Out of the allocation of RM400 million, he said RM350 million represents an allocation under the Agrobank fund.

“A total of RM18.8 million has been channelled, benefitting 2,335 entrepreneurs as of Oct 9. “In addition to the microcredit financing scheme, the initiative also includes incentives to facilitate the mobility of agricultural work to pilot companies, and contributions in-kind to support urban farming,” he said.

As for the i-Lestari withdrawal scheme under the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Tengku Zafrul said the cumulative withdrawal is RM10.47 billion (an increase from RM9.55 billion last week), involving 4.66 million recipients.

On the EPF’s Covid-19 assistance programme for employers, he said that a total of 69,864 applications have been received.

Of the total, 13,090 applications are approved worth RM85 million (no increment) for the employers’ EPF contribution.

The government also channelled a total of RM313.74 million based on 957,996 claims consisting of doctors, nurses and other medical personnel who have been directly involved in the management and containment of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, to support taxi drivers, Tengku Zafrul said the government has disbursed a one-off cash assistance to 33,851 taxi drivers (an increase from 33,839 taxi drivers last week), amounting to RM20.31 million.

A total of 7,642 tourist guides (an increase from 7,638 tourist guides) have received a one-off cash assistance amounting to RM4.6 million.

Additionally, tour bus drivers have also received a one-off cash assistance amounting to RM1.8 million.

Tengku Zafrul said a total of 52,851 employees (an increase from 48,617 last week) have secured jobs via the Hiring Incentive Programme and Training Assistance.

A total of 94,462 individuals are approved to participate in the reskilling and upskilling programmes.

“Several ministries and agencies have coordinated reskilling and upskilling programmes across the relevant ministries and agencies, in order to provide a workforce that meets the needs of the industry,” he added.

Previously, the Finance Ministry had stated that the government has allocated RM1.7 billion to combat the spread of Covid-19, channelled via 14 ministries and state governments.

The government, through MoH, had also channelled an additional allocation of RM44 million to strengthen Sabah’s healthcare frontliners.

Apart from that, the government, through the National Security Council, recently approved an additional allocation of RM50 million to Nadma (Agensi Pengurusan Bencana Negara).

Both of these additional provisions are in line with the commitment to ensure preparedness in the face of increasing Covid-19 infections nationwide.

Tengku Zafrul said the government is constantly monitoring current developments of the situation and is always ready to increase allocations, as and when needed.

He added that the ministry is also in the process of drafting Budget 2021, in which economic continuity will be given priority to ensure the maintenance of the momentum of economic recovery.