Govt expands fiscal policy in combating Covid-19

More than 66% or RM216b of the RM322.5b allocated under Budget 2021 had been spent as planned as of Sept 15

 pic by BERNAMA

MALAYSIA’S deficit is expected to reach between 6.5% and 7% this year as the government took an expansionary fiscal policy approach to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture) said more than 66% or RM216 billion of the RM322.5 billion allocated under Budget 2021 had been spent as planned as of Sept 15.

Tengku Zafrul stated the government has remained vigilant with regard to the current developments as the Covid-19 situation is dynamic.

“The government has also announced eight economic stimulus and aid packages worth RM530 billion which include both fiscal and non-fiscal measures.

“As of Sept 24, more than RM330 billion or about 62% has been implemented, benefiting 20 million people and 2.4 million businesses,” Tengku Zafrul told Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He said to accommodate the additional fiscal injections specifically to address the Covid-19 crisis, the government has funded this package through the Covid-19 Fund.

“Given the need for additional expenditure, the government will be tabling the proposal to increase the ceiling cap for the Covid-19 Fund from RM65 billion to RM110 billion to finance the additional aid and support measures for this year and beyond,” he added.

In his response to Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng, he added that the government has also allocated RM33 billion as direct cash assistance for the people.

“In terms of cash assistance for businesses, especially micro-entrepreneurs and small to medium enterprises, the government has provided an allocation of about RM30 billion.”

On the Pandora Paper issue, Tengku Zafrul said any individual may open an account with a licensed bank including offshore accounts as stipulated by the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

Recently, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) had obtained more than 11.9 million confidential files shared by an anonymous source, which ICIJ then shared with its partners.

It includes data from 14 offshore service firms that set up shell companies and trusts in tax havens globally.

There were also documents with regards to offshore dealings involving high net worth individuals in Malaysia from providers in Hong Kong or in the Caribbean and among the individuals named include Tengku Zafrul, Deputy Finance Minister II Yamani Hafez Musa and Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, among others.