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COVID-19: PM UNVEILS RM15 BLN PACKAGE TO HELP PEOPLE, ENSURE ECONOMIC RESILIENCE


18 JAN 2021


KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today unveiled a RM15 billion aid package to ease the people’s burden and ensure economic resilience at a time when the country is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Muhyiddin said the Perlindungan Ekonomi dan Rakyat Malaysia (PERMAI) aid package contains 22 initiatives to combat the pandemic, safeguard the welfare of the people and support business continuity.

“The government has time and again demonstrated that we will not compromise in ensuring the rakyat’s wellbeing, business continuity and economic resilience,” he said when announcing the PERMAI package over national television and social media platforms.

Muhyiddin said under the objective of combating COVID-19, the government has provided an additional RM1 billion fund, of which RM800 million is for the Health Ministry and the balance for the National Security Council and other agencies.

The prime minister said this allocation would focus on supplies, including additional reagents, screening kits and personal protective equipment (PPE), specifically for healthcare personnel.

He said the planning for the national vaccination programme is on track, as the government has signed three agreements with vaccine producers, and is expected to receive the first batch of vaccines by the end of February.

“Through the established Special Committee on Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Supply, the government will ensure transparency in the procurement of vaccines and give the utmost priority to the National Immunisation Programme with an allocation of RM3 billion,” he added.

Muhyiddin stressed that the guidelines and methods for receiving the vaccine will be announced soon, and the vaccination programme will be implemented in phases over a 12-month period.

This means the first batch is expected to be vaccinated by early March, and Malaysia is expected to meet its target of vaccinating more than 80 per cent of its population or close to 27 million people by the first quarter of 2022.

Muhyiddin said under the initiative to strengthen the national healthcare sector, the government will recruit an additional 3,500 healthcare personnel who will start working at the end of this month, with an additional allocation of RM150 million.

“These recruits comprise assistant medical officers, paramedics, laboratory technicians and nurses. My commitment is that the government will increase the recruitment of healthcare professionals should the need arise to support the immunisation programme,” he said.

The prime minister said as announced during Budget 2021, the one-off provision of RM500 to healthcare frontliners and RM300 to other frontliners will be paid in the first quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, the existing special monthly allowance of RM600 to healthcare frontliners and RM200 to other frontliners will continue until the pandemic is over, said Muhyiddin.

Muhyiddin also said private hospitals had agreed to receive and treat both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients to help alleviate the strain on the public healthcare system, and the government will allocate RM100 million for this purpose.

He said under the initiative to strengthen health screening of workers, the cost of COVID-19 screening test for registered foreign workers will be fully borne by the Social Security Organisation (Socso) in red zones, while the tax relief relating to full health screening expenses has been expanded to cover COVID-19 screening.

On Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat or BPN 2.0, Muhyiddin said the final payment will be brought forward from Jan 21, 2021 onwards, involving 11.1 million recipients and a total allocation of RM2.38 billion.

Under the initiative to strengthen welfare programmes, the prime minister said, the government had increased the monthly rate of welfare assistance under the Social Welfare Department (JKM) with effect from January 2021.

JKM will also implement a Food Basket Programme immediately while the government will offer tax deductions to donors who have been assisting those impacted by the pandemic.

In his 40-minute address, Muhyiddin also outlined the third objective on supporting business continuity, including enhancing the Wage Subsidy Programme 3.0 under Socso and expanding the Prihatin Special Grant Plus for traders and hawkers in Sabah. -Bernama

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