Govt to study financial aid package for phase 2 of NRP


PETALING JAYA: The Government may need to study what type of assistance and packages that are needed to be rolled out when Malaysia transitions into phase two of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

National Budget director Datuk Johan Mahmood Merican said there may be a need for the Finance Ministry and other government agencies to study the matter after the first phase ends.

The second phase is expected to kick in July and August, if it meets the criteria of less than 4,000 new daily cases, moderate intensive care unit (ICU) and when 10% of the population is fully vaccinated.

This will allow more economic sectors to reopen in phases with up to 80% operating capacity but social activities and interstate travel are still not allowed.

“The Government is committed to ensuring that those affected (financially by the lockdown) will be given assistance and we will continue monitoring the situation in anything that we implement.

“But what we want to emphasise is, the support of the rakyat and the private sector is vital for us to achieve the threshold that has been set (in the NRP) so that we can reopen the economy faster.

“As far as the Government is able to provide assistance, the best is still for us to ensure full compliance with the SOPs and practice social distancing to break the Covid-19 chain,” he said during the Ruang Bicara talk show by Bernama TV.

He was responding to a question by the programme’s host Sherkawi Jirim who said that Malaysians were probably disappointed when no economic stimulus package was announced with the NRP.

Including the RM40bil Pemerkasa Plus package that was announced on May 31, which is the seventh economic stimulus package by the Government, Johan said the total assistance amounted to RM380mil to date, of which RM200bil have been channeled into the economy.

This has benefited more than 20 million Malaysians and 2.4 million businesses.

“The packages that were announced may not be as huge as last year’s but there are still more than RM100bil worth of packages that are still in the implementation process.

“The issue may also be that of the rakyat viewing each package individually and they do not see how the new packages are linked to the previous packages.

Responding to a viewer who questioned why businesses were still allowed to operate in a lockdown, Johan said the practice was similar to that of other countries, which still allowed economic sectors to operate.

“There needs to be the food and beverage sector at least, which is why the agriculture sector is also allowed to operate. There’s 1.8 million people working in agriculture.

“Then there are the utility needs like electricity, telcos and water to ensure the continuity of daily lives.

“At the same time, we have sectors that are strategic for our economy such as oil and gas and electronics, both of which are our main exports,” he said, adding that a total closure on these sectors would inflict long-term economic damage to Malaysia.

Johan said when there are constraints in supply from Malaysia, foreign customers and corporations would move to other countries to fulfill their demand and it would then take a long time to get them to return to Malaysia, which would spiral into a longer period of high unemployment and loss of investments.

“With the reduction of manufacturers’ workforce capacity to 60%, this has resulted in reduction of movements among the public to only 20%, which is why our roads are empty.

“In terms of MySejahtera check-ins, it has also dropped by 60% while electricity usage also showed a major decline as compared to the second movement control order (MCO 2.0).

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