Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has announced RM40 billion in economic aid as the nation ticks towards a national lockdown that begins at midnight tonight.
In a televised announcement tonight, Muhyiddin said the Pemerkasa Plus programme includes RM5 billion direct fiscal injection from the federal government.
He said Pemerkasa Plus has three main thrusts, namely: boosting public healthcare capacity, preserving the people's welfare, and ensuring the sustainability of businesses.
"I wish to be frank that the government has very limited fiscal space to spend at this time.
"However, cogniscient of the people's welfare, the government will do its best to ensure a balance between lives and livelihood including opportunities for you to make a living for your beloved family throughout the movement control order," he said.
Muhyiddin said today's announcement is on top of previously announced stimulus packages totaling over RM100 billion, which are still being implemented.
Among the salient points from his speech are as follows:
Boosting public healthcare capacity
- RM450 million to increase hospital beds and procure equipment for intensive care units, including at teaching hospitals of public universities at military field hospitals.
- RM550 million for spending related to Covid-19 including increased operating and management expenses, procurement of medicines and reagents, and appointment of contract officers.
- Extend the service of 14,000 contract medical officers and nurses until 2022, and appoint 500 healthcare workers who are due for mandatory retirement this year on a contract basis.
- Expedite the Covid-19 immunisation programme – states with high population density (Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor, and Penang) are due for completion in October, while the rests would finish by the end of the year.
- Government vehicles such as buses, vans, and pool vehicles will be mobilised to help senior citizens and those living far from vaccine administration centres get vaccinated.
Continuing the 'Prihatin Rakyat' agenda
Ensuring business sustainability
- RM2.1 billion for additional payments under the Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat programme – RM500 for households earning less than RM2,500, RM300 for households earning between RM2,501 and RM5,000, and RM100 for unmarried people. Money will be remitted at the end of June.
- Choice of a three-month loan moratorium or six months of 50 percent reduced loan repayments, for those in the B40 group, those who lost work, and small-and-medium enterprises that can't operate during the MCO. Details will be announced tomorrow.
- RM1 billion bus and taxi rehabilitation scheme will be launched this week for eligible bus and taxi operators to extend their loan moratorium up to 12 months and extend their loan up to 36 months.
- The federal government will fork out RM1.5 billion to extending Social Security Organisation's (Socso) wage subsidy programme by one month in all economic sectors, for up to 500 workers per application.
- Companies registered under the Human Resource Development Corporation will be exempted from paying the levy for the month of June.
- Free upskilling for workers through over 400 modules and courses available online under the e-Latih portal.
- Prihatin Special Grant increased by RM500 to RM1,500. Of this, RM1,000 will be paid in mid-June, and RM500 will be paid in July.
- Low-interest microcredit loans from BSN, Tekun, Mara, SME Corp and Yapeim totalling RM1.5 billion for traders and micro-entrepreneurs, with an interest rate of three percent.
- Additional RM2 billion for Bank Negara's Targeted Relief and Recovery Facility on top of the RM5 billion still available, which would offer loans to small-and-medium enterprises at 3.5 percent interest rate.
- RM68 million to provide one-off RM500 special assistance for 17,000 tour guides, 40,000 taxi drivers, 11,000 school bus drivers, 4,000 tour bus drivers, 62,000 rental car and e-hailing drivers. Registered recipients would be paid in July.
- Inland Revenue Board to consider appeals on tax penalties and postpone payment of penalties to 2022. Affected taxpayers and businesses may also get a new repayment schedule for outstanding taxes.
- Deadline for submission of financial statements to the Companies Commission and for listed companies to hold annual general meetings for listed companies will be extended.
- Companies Commission will waive penalties for late renewal of business licences for micro-businesses, sole-proprietorships, and partnerships, up to Dec 31.
- Protection for companies unable to fulfil their contractual obligations will be extended under the Temporary Measures for Reducing the Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) Act 2020 until Dec 31. The government will continue to offer free mediation services through the Covid Mediation Centre.
- Hotel operators, tour agencies, shopping complexes, convention centres, theme parks, and local airline offices will a 10 percent discount on their electricity bills from July to September.
- Building and business premise owners who reduce the rental rate for their business premises by 30 percent for six months up to Dec 31 will get a tax discount.
- Exemptions for tourism tax and service tax for hotel stays extended until Dec 31.
- Stamp duty exemption under last year's Home Ownership Campaign extended until Dec 31. It was due to expire today.
- Sales tax exemption for CKD, imported CBU passenger vehicles extended from July 1 to Dec 31.
The lockdown starting at midnight is the start of three phases
of Covid-19 control measures, the first of which is a total lockdown expected to last two weeks.
Only certain businesses deemed "essential services" will be allowed to operate during this period.
In the following four weeks after that, some businesses where there are no large gatherings and can maintain physical distancing will be allowed to reopen.
Finally, most businesses will be allowed to reopen during the third phase, which would be akin to the previous MCO.