KUALA LUMPUR : Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced a RM150 billion in Covid-19 relief spending this evening (June 28) with RM10 billion in aid to be channelled towards low- and middle-income households affected by the public health crisis.
The “Pemulih” (Recovery) package will see a RM500 increase in the Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat slated for June, and a cash transfer between RM100 to RM1,400 for as part of the third BPR phase to be disbursed in September.null
The cash transfers will cost RM4.9 billion.
Poor and middle-class households will also be given additional cash through the newly set up Special Covid Aid (BKC) programme.
Under the programme, hardcore poor households will receive RM500 in August, October and December while singles will be given RM200 in August and RM300 in November.
For households in the B40 income bracket, an additional cash aid of RM500 and RM300 will be deposited in August and December.
M40 households, defined as those earning between RM4,850 to RM10,959 will also qualify for the programme, with a cash transfer of RM250 to be given in August, while singles in the same income bracket will receive RM100.
The BKC programme is expected to benefit 11 million households, with an allocation of RM4.6 billion.
Muhyiddin in a live address to announce the spending said his government was attuned to the problems faced by the public and small businesses as public health authorities impose another round of movement restrictions.
“I know and understand that many are dealing with financial problems at the moment because they have lost their jobs, cannot trade or work as usual,” he said.
“Owners of food stalls and restaurants are suffering losses because they have no customers. Helpers and contract factory workers are losing income because non-essential manufacturing companies are not allowed to operate.”
The prime minister said the RM150 billion Pemulih package will aim to sustain previous aid programmes, support businesses and ramp up vaccination and complement efforts to put the country back on the recovery path under the National Recovery Plan, currently in the first phase.
The first phase will seek to stabilise the rate of infections through strict mobility restrictions. Muhyiddin said the curbs will be gradually loosened in the second phase should cases dip below 4,000 and public hospitals have more space to treat patients.
From the RM150 billion, just RM10 billion will be in direct fiscal spending, which will go directly towards the cash aid programmes.
The BPR is a continuation of a federal cash transfer scheme established under the previous Barisan Nasional administration, while the RM4.6 billion allocation for BKC is new.
The remaining RM500 million will be channelled into the Income Loss Aid (BKP) fund. The programme is expected to benefit a million people, Muhyiddin said.
Industry representatives have warned that up to 50,000 small and micro businesses could fold without government financial assistance, and are likely to result in soaring unemployment.
The Muhyiddin government had pledged RM380 billion in relief packages since the first movement control order was imposed in March last year, but direct fiscal spending accounted for just RM75 billion.
Critics and some economists have panned the prime minister’s financial response to the pandemic as financially conservative, saying it was inadequate to contain the economic fallout caused by the crisis.
By : SYED JAYMAL ZAHIID – MALAY MAIL