PM to announce new stimulus package next week as Covid-19 batters economy

Jerry Choong
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad delivers his keynote address during the launch of the National Reading Decade at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi February 13, 2020. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 — A new package to stimulate the economy will be revealed next Thursday as Malaysia copes with the crippling effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak that is also hammering other economies worldwide.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the package will be announced by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad with the primary aim of mitigating the adverse effects of the virus known as Covid-19, adding that it is neither a new budget nor part of Budget 2020 measures.

“Instead, assistance will be given to the affected sectors to allow the economy to emerge as whole as possible and benefit from the expected economic rebound post-coronavirus,” he said in a statement.

Lim encouraged the public not to despair now even though the market faces serious challenges.

He was upbeat that Malaysian industries that can weather the latest crisis will reap the benefits when the market rebounds after the health scare ends.

“Cashflow is the principal concern and affected companies must ensure they remain viable, operational and capable of reaping the benefits when the economic rebound takes place.

“The government will adopt measures to assist these companies, but emphasis should also be placed on exploring alternative revenues such as shifting towards encouraging domestic tourism, and sourcing from other markets,” he said.

Lim said to do so, this meant keeping the domestic labour market resilient while ensuring Malaysia’s soft and physical infrastructure remain in place amid the short-term weakened demand.

“The Ministry is preparing the economic stimulus programme and is working together with the Economic Affairs Ministry, the Transportation Ministry, the Tourism Ministry, the Arts and Culture Ministry, the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry, and various agencies.

“The government has also engaged in consultations with principal players in the tourism, logistics and finance sectors, with the ministries holding meetings with small and medium enterprises, as well as government-linked funds and companies,” he said.

The minister also praised the Health Ministry for its efforts in containing the coronavirus outbreak without engendering public panic, despite frequent episodes of fake news.

“Our health professionals deserve all the support they require to overcome this challenge.

“Whilst the Government is helping the affected industries, we hope the industry players will play their part in assisting their clients and suppliers so that all can survive this challenge and benefit from the post-coronavirus rebound,” Lim said.

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