KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian government under Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin took decisive and timely action to deal comprehensively with the COVID-19 outbreak, Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said on July 2.
He said the government had launched a systematic campaign firstly to introduce a holistic set of health measures and protocols in order to secure the well-being and lives of the people.
“At the same time, the government implemented various stimulus packages to help cushion the economic repercussions of these measures and to sustain growth and ensure economic viability,” he said in his opening remarks at the Asian Productivity Organisation (APO) Top Talk titled ‘Malaysia’s Experience: Economic Resilience and Business Continuity Measures to Recover from Covid-19’.
He said to strengthen the economy during the COVID-19 outbreak, a six-pronged approach, namely Resolve, Resilience, Restart, Recovery, Revitalise and Reform, has been implemented.
He said the government introduced a massive stimulus package worth RM295 billion comprising the RM250 billion Prihatin Rakyat economic stimulus package (PRIHATIN), the supplementary RM10 billion special stimulus package for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and the RM35 billion PENJANA short-term economic recovery plan.
He said to assist SMEs, which comprise 98% of businesses in the country, the government has allocated RM5 billion under Bank Negara Malaysia’s Special Relief Facility (SRF). In addition, RM1 billion was further injected into the All Economic Sectors (AES) Facility, to enhance access to financing for SMEs and to support growth.
Through PRIHATIN, the government also introduced the Wage Subsidy Programme amounting to RM13.8 billion to assist employers in retaining their workers, and this scheme is estimated to have benefited more than four million workers.
He said at the same time, financial institutions offered a six-month moratorium on repayment of loans estimated at RM100 billion benefiting the people and businesses. The loan deferments, granted since April 1, provided further assistance to companies to continue operations or immediately resume business activities.
“The government’s immediate priority was to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus and towards this end, an allocation of RM500 million was set aside to the Ministry of Health,” he said.
To enhance Malaysia’s health capabilities, the government allocated an additional RM1 billion to purchase equipment and services to contain COVID-19, which included obtaining medical expertise from private healthcare services.
“We are now in the recovery phase where we are rolling out strategic initiatives to propel the nation forward. On June 5, 2020 the government announced the RM35 billion PENJANA economic recovery plan comprising 40 initiatives with three main targets, namely to Empower People, Propel Businesses and Stimulate the Economy,” he said.
Emphasis was given to providing additional support to workers and SMEs via training programmes, financing schemes, pump-priming domestic consumption and assisting industries impacted by the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Meanwhile, to boost investors’ confidence, a fund worth RM1.2 billion was established to intensify the adoption of innovation and expand domestic venture capital.
He said in line with the government’s objective towards digital transformation, RM100 million was allocated to establish the National Technology and Innovation Sandbox (NTIS).
“In this regard, it is worth noting that the constraints encountered during the implementation of the MCO led to the wider use of digital technology among the business community.
“I believe that the fight against this pandemic will be a long-drawn-out battle, which will demand unrelenting commitment to put in our best efforts and work as a team, regardless of geographical boundaries. Likewise, building economic resilience and business continuity measures will continue to be a major challenge for all of us,” he added.