As Covid-19 drags on, Guan Eng urges govt to introduce second RM45b economic stimulus package

·3-min read
Lim Guan Eng said it would be difficult to achieve the government’s projected economic recovery of 7.5 per cent growth this year without such a stimulus. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Lim Guan Eng said it would be difficult to achieve the government’s projected economic recovery of 7.5 per cent growth this year without such a stimulus. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng today called on the government to introduce a second round of stimulus to the tune of RM45 billion as it did last year, to shore up the flagging economy and alleviate the financial burden on businesses and the public.

In a statement, the former finance minister added it would be difficult to achieve the government’s projected economic recovery of 7.5 per cent growth this year without such a stimulus.

“How can the rakyat not be angry when the number of Covid-19 infections continue to soar despite Parliament remaining closed?” he asked.

“Worse is the comment from Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz that MCO 3.0 is not expected to have a significant impact on the country’s economic growth.

“Is Perikatan Nasional (PN) hinting that no forthcoming government assistance is forthcoming under MCO 3.0?”, he added in reference to the current movement control order.

Breaking down his proposed stimulus package, Lim said firstly the package must encompass an increase in monthly welfare payments to RM1,000, including for those who are unemployed, costing RM12 billion a year.

He then proposed an “automatic” extension of the moratorium of bank loan repayments, except for those in the top 20 per cent (T20) income group, until the end of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme next year.

“That will help eight million Malaysian individuals and companies and should be borne by banks, which still recorded profit after tax of more than RM22 billion for 2020 as compared to RM32.3 billion in 2019,” he said.

He also suggested providing incentives for companies to employ local workers under the Malaysia@Work government programme, entailing a handout of RM500 a month to employees and RM300 per month to employers.

According to Lim, the initiative would cost RM6.5 billion and create employment opportunities for 300,000 Malaysian workers.

He added another RM3.5 billion should be allocated to facilitating on-line learning for all students, including the buying of laptops.

“RM23 billion should be given to all businesses affected by the economic recession and MCO, in the form of financial grants, rental and utility subsidies, loan guarantees and credit extensions for small and medium enterprises, retail sector and the crippled tourism industry.

“The tourism industry lost RM100 billion in revenue last year and without ‘life-support’ from the government, faces a bleak future,” he said.

The third MCO was announced by the government earlier this month, starting in Selangor on May 4, but was quickly extended to the entire nation within a week.

Despite businesses and economic sectors remaining open, large restrictions have been placed on operations and travel, limiting the income of many businesses and individuals.

However, an economic stimulus package is yet to be announced by the government.

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