Over 1m frontliners assisted under Prihatin

Local banks have, to date, channelled a total of RM11.6b to SMEs via the 24,628 approved applications

By AZALEA AZUAR / Pic by BERNAMA

THE Prihatin Rakyat economic stimulus package has assisted over 1.45 million frontliners to date, with total funds of RM484.85 million as of Feb 19, 2021.

The frontliners comprise medical (doctors and nurses) and non- medical (police, military personnel and firefighters) personnels, who are directly involved in managing the containment of the Covid-19 virus and implementing the Movement Control Order nationwide.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Utama Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture) in his latest Laksana announcement yesterday said both the Prihatin and the short-term National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) packages have helped thousands of businesses and individuals.

Local banks have, to date, channelled a total of RM11.63 billion to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) via the 24,628 approved applications.

He said the Tekun Business Recovery Scheme for micro-SMEs has also benefitted 14,946 entities, while the technical and digital utilisation support for SMEs and mid-tier companies has assisted 8,580 businesses in the form of grants and loans for subscription to digitalisation services amounting to RM40.5 million.

The Agrobank Microcredit Financing Scheme has further helped 7,723 agricultural micro SMEs with funds worth a total of RM85.1 million.

The government has also given a 100% exemption from export duty to the commodity sector, including palm oil-based industries — where the value of export duty exemption successfully utilised currently stands at RM593.9 million — to help boost the commodity sector’s growth and export value.

On tourism, the government introduced a service tax exemption for hotels to support the tourism sector until June 30, 2021. Tengku Zafrul said the value of the tax exemptions has reached RM1.37 billion.

Meanwhile, under the RM2 billion Penjana SME Financing scheme which grants loans to SMEs, Tengku Zafrul said a total of 6,731 applications had been approved with a total loan value of RM1.26 billion as of Feb 19.

He added that a total of RM363.4 million from the Penjana Micro-Credit Financing under Bank Simpanan Nasional Bhd (BSN) has also been channelled to benefit 10,774 micro-SMEs, including those from the retail and services sectors.

The Penjana Tourism Financing has also seen RM57.1 million allocated to help 282 SMEs and micro- SMEs in the industry.

Tengku Zafrul said the Bumiputera Relief Financing — introduced by Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Bhd to help SMEs with financing of between RM100,000 and RM1 million — has benefitted 572 SMEs with funds amounting to RM161.7 million.

The government has also extended the sales tax exemption for passenger vehicles to help boost the local automotive sector and economic activities. As of Feb 19, the value of sales tax relief that has been utilised is RM232.96 million.

For individuals, the government has deployed the wage subsidy programme (WSP) which has helped retain employment across sectors.

As of Sept 30, 2020, the closing date of the WSP 1.0, a total of 322,177 employers and 2.64 million employees have received WSP benefits. The amount of approved wage subsidy applications reached RM12.76 billion as of Feb 5.

Under WSP 2.0, a total of RM808.31 million has been channelled to 66,591 employers to continue to operate and maintain employment for 554,876 employees as of Feb 19.

A total of 130,871 employees have also secured employment through the Hiring Incentive and Training Assistance Programme which involves the manufacturing, wholesale and retail sectors. Some 135,751 individuals have also participated in the reskilling and upskilling programme.

Additionally, a total of RM127.74 million has been channelled for the subscription of 751,414 unlimited monthly public transport passes worth RM30 to help Malaysians reduce the burden when using public transport.

The government has introduced four economic stimulus packages worth RM305 billion and one assistance package worth RM15 billion to date. This does not take into account the RM322.5 billion budget revealed last year.

“All this is proof of the government’s determination to ensure the welfare of the people and to restore our economy which has been impacted due to the pandemic,” the minister said.

He added that the government would formulate additional measures in the near future to help vulnerable groups and increase support for businesses.