By Mei Kuan
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in his televised address today (January 18) announced a special aid package, PERMAI, to protect the economy and people.
“From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic early last year, the government has implemented four economic stimulus packages worth RM305 billion. The 2021 Budget also supports the economic recovery effort announced on November 6 with the largest allocation ever in the nation’s history totalling RM322.5 billion,” he explained.
Generally, the PERMAI package serves to improve on the existing initiatives which are still ongoing and to speed up implementation of relevant initiatives.
The 22 initiatives to be implemented under PERMAI are categorised under three main objectives:
- To fight COVID-19
- To protect the welfare of the people
- To support business sustainability
Under the first objective, the government has allocated RM1 billion of additional funds comprising almost RM800 million to the Ministry of Health and the remaining to the National Security Council and other agencies involved.
“I am glad to announce that our vaccine programme planning is on track. The government has signed 3 agreements with vaccine manufacturers and is expected to receive the first supply of vaccines at the end of February,” Muhyiddin stated.
Other initiatives are aimed to strengthen the nation’s healthcare system and health screening of workers besides to increase collaboration with private hospitals.
To protect the welfare of the people, especially the vulnerable and those relying on daily wages, the payment of aids will be hastened. For instance, the final phase of payment under the Prihatin National Aid (BPN 2.0) introduced last year will be sped up to January 21.
Welfare programmes will be strengthened via the welfare department. Moratorium aids will be continued as announced before. To date, over 1.3 million borrowers have applied and received the repayment aids, with an approval rate of 95% for individual borrowers and 99% for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) borrowers.
“This proves that the people need not worry to contact the banks should they need repayment flexibility. For borrowers who face difficulties, Bank Negara Malaysia and Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) are ready to assist and provide advice via phone or online,” he expressed.
Related initiatives include extension of the special tax relief period for purchase of mobile phones, computers and tablets till December 31 and extension of the sales tax exemption period for purchase of passenger cars till June 30.
To support business sustainability, among others, the wage subsidy programme 3.0 under PERKESO (Social Security Organisation) will be improved, whereby all employers operating in areas placed under MCO are eligible to apply regardless of sector.
The Prihatin Tambahan Special Grant for Sabah, announced in the 2021 Budget, will be extended with an additional allocation of RM650 million to 500,000 SMEs in seven states placed under MCO and 300,000 SMEs in other states.
To learn more of the aids, readers can visit the following portal starting today: belanjawan2021.treasury.gov.my/manfaat
“I believe the resourcefulness, tenacity and resilience inherent in our true Malaysian spirit will serve us well in facing this great adversity. We will prevail, insha-Allah (God willing),” he concluded.