COVID-19: Dr M announces RM20 bln economic stimulus package (full story)

COVID-19: Dr M announces RM20 bln economic stimulus package (full story)

PUCHONG: Interim Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today announced a RM20 billion economic stimulus package to help rejuvenate the nation’s economy, by helping sectors badly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Speaking in a live address, Mahathir also took time to extend his gratitude to the frontlines in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, which are doctors, nurses, medical officers, immigration personnel and others involved.

“Although we have managed to control the spread of COVID-19 in Malaysia, it has caused severe impact on global economy, including ours.

“Therefore, I am now announcing a RM20 billion economic stimulus package that will not only address the COVID-19 outbreak but also help protect and boost our economy,” he said.

To date, the coronavirus has infected over 80,000 people worldwide, killing more than 2,800 across the globe.

Malaysia has not recorded any deaths and so far, 20 patients have been cured and many of patients are recovering from the highly infectious disease.

Touching on the stimulus plan, Mahathir said that the measure would be focused on three areas which are; managing the impact of COVID-19, boosting economic growth and encourage quality investments.

He added that among the sectors affected by the outbreak were the hotel industry, airlines, tourism and others

Among the slew of measures announced as follows:

RM600 one-off payment to taxi drives, tour bus drivers, tour guides and trishaw riders.

Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) payments will be given out in March instead of May

BHS recipients will receive RM100 in May and an additional RM50 in their e-wallets

RM400 special critical allowance will paid monthly to doctors and medical staff directly involved in managing COVID-19

RM200 special monthly allowance for immigration and other frontliners will be given starting this month until the outbreak ends

Personal income tax relief of up to RM1,000 for domestic tourism

Contribution to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) will be slashed from the current 11% to seven percent starting April 1 till Dec 31.  This will allow consumers to have RM10 billion in hand.

Up to RM100 in digital domestic tourism voucher for Malaysians using domestic flights, rails and hotel accommodation.

Mahathir also announced that the government would postpone tax payments of those in the tourism sector affected by the outbreak.

“And please revise your revenue projections so that no penalty will be imposed,” he said.

The nonagenarian also called on banks to restructure loan repayments by affected industries and reminded them that Bank Negara Malaysia will be monitoring the situation.

On the outbreak, Mahathir said that so far, the Health Ministry had spent about RM250 million to contain the COVID-19 spread in Malaysia.

“And I assure you that the government will continue to provide enough funds to combat the infectious disease,” said the Langkawi MP.

By G Vinod