Wage subsidy programme benefits over 2.6m workers

pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

A TOTAL of 322,000 employers and more than 2.6 million workers have benefitted from the wage subsidy programme (WSP) which had a total of RM11.9 billion in wage subsidy approved as at Oct 23.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the government had announced WSP and WSP 2.0 as financial assistance for employers affected by Covid-19 to resume business operations and retain workers.

“In total, almost RM18 billion is prepared for WSP and WSP 2.0,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He was responding to a question from Datuk Ahmad Nazlan Idrus (Barisan Nasional-Jerantut) who asked for the government’s plans after the Recovery Movement Control Order to help those who have lost their jobs or saw a reduction in income due to the pandemic.

Tengku Zafrul said the government also announced stimulus measures to provide temporary relief for those heavily impacted to bear their daily costs.

Among the initiatives outlined by Tengku Zafrul yesterday was the one-off cash assistance under Bantuan Prihatin Nasional and an additional one-off assistance of RM100 under Bantuan Sara Hidup.

He said the government also offered cash assistance to vulnerable groups which consist of the disabled and single mothers.

“As of Oct 23, 2020, the government has channelled a total of RM11.9 billion of one-off assistance to 16.3 million recipients,” he said.

He added that the government had reduced financial stress within households by giving discounts on electricity bills and exemption in rents for those renting under the People’s Housing Project or are in transit under the management of Housing and Local Government Ministry and Kuala Lumpur City Council.

Meanwhile, on a separate matter, Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin said a total of 654,812 connections are available nationwide as of Sept 2020, under the Suburban Broadband (SUBB) and Rural Broadband (RBB) projects.

He said the subscription rate for fixed-line broadband through these projects has increased by 9% to 45% in September versus 36% in the same month last year.

He was responding to a question from Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin (Pakatan Harapan-Hang Tuah Jaya) who wanted to know the current and future initiatives by the ministry to resolve Internet network issues — so that it is more widely available, fast, cheaper and effective — as well as the percentage of Internet access in the suburban and rural areas following the SUBB and RBB projects.

Zahidi said the ministry will ensure the prices for Internet will be low despite the government’s plan for expansion of Internet coverage.

“The government’s focus now is to provide nationwide coverage as there are complaints that some areas do not get coverage.

“As I have said, we are working to introduce satellites where we can cover more areas, including fishermen. If we cannot build towers to reach them, we will use satellites. This will also benefit those on oil rigs.

“We will try to ensure the price will not increase, so that a nationwide coverage can be obtained as we enhance the infrastructure.”