by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by BERNAMA
A NEW stimulus package worth RM20 billion, more than half of which is a fresh fiscal injection of RM11 billion, was introduced yesterday in line with the government’s effort to jumpstart the country’s economy.
Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (picture) said the package, named Strategic Programme to Empower the People and the Economy (Pemerkasa), comprises a total of 20 strategic initiatives in accelerating economic growth, supporting business and continuing targeted assistance to people affected from the Covid-19 crisis.
He said the programme will also prioritise the acceleration of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, with an extra budget of RM2 billion allocated to ensure the herd immunity target could be achieved ahead of schedule.
“The government will raise the allocation for the immunisation programme from RM3 billion to RM5 billion to accelerate the herd immunisation goal to December 2021, from the earlier target of the first quarter of 2022,” Muhyiddin said in his special address yesterday.
He added that up to 15,000 work-forces will be stationed at 950 vaccine distribution centres (PPV) throughout the country.
“With the additional task, the government has agreed to add a monthly allowance to civil servants who are involved at the PPV of RM200 through Covid-19 Special Aid programme,” Muhyiddin said.
At present, more than 300 individuals have received the Covid-19 jab, since the programme rolled out on Feb 24.
To ensure fast economic revival, Muhyiddin also said Putrajaya will strive to evade any possibility of enforcing a third round of the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Instead, Muhyiddin said the government will take a more specific approach to enforce targeted MCO at localities which are affected by Covid-19 cases, based on science and data.
He said all enforcement of the Emergency Ordinance (Essential Powers) 2021 will not only be carried out in a strict measure but with a high level of transparency.
Muhyiddin said allocations for small-scale projects this year have also been doubled from the earlier announcement of RM2.5 billion to RM5 billion.
“Among the types of small projects that will be dedicated to class G1 to G4 contractors are repair of infrastructure and public facilities damaged due to floods, road repairs, social amenity programmes, repair of stratified housing, including elevator replacement in public housing, and construction of stalls in local authorities.
“The government will simplify procurement procedures to expedite project implementation,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) is expected to implement the Safe@Work initiative to assist employers in providing better and conducive accommodation for employees.
Through the programme, companies registered with MITI will be allowed to operate in situations where close contact workers are isolated from the local community and other workers by placing them in a “safe work bubble”, until all close contact workers are cleared from Covid-19.
“Companies that participate in this voluntary programme will be granted additional tax deductions, applicable to manufacturing companies and manufacturing-related service firms,” Muhyiddin said.
The tax deduction is on the company’s expenses of their workers’ hostel premises.
“Expenditure eligible for this additional tax deduction is limited to RM50,000 for each company that is registered with MITI and has passed the Safe@Work compliance audit. Companies can register from April 1, 2021,” he added.
Muhyiddin also announced that an employer who performs a Covid-19 screening test for employees is allowed to make an additional tax deduction on the cost of the examination for expenses incurred up to Dec 31, 2021.
Read our previous report here