KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced a new economic stimulus package worth RM20 billion (US$4.8 billion) on Wednesday (Mar 17), one year after Malaysia first imposed a lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.
This is the sixth package unveiled since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"To revive economic activity, I am pleased to announce that the government will implement the Strategic Programme to Empower the People and Economy or Pemerkasa worth RM20 billion, with a new fiscal injection of RM11 billion from the government," Mr Muhyiddin said in a live address.
The programme comprises 20 strategic initiatives to boost economic growth, support business and extend targeted assistance to the people and affected sectors, he added.
The country is now at the fifth stage of a comprehensive economic recovery plan, which is "revitalise", to jump-start the economy.
Thursday marks one full year since Malaysia first imposed a lockdown known as movement control order (MCO) to break the infection chain.
As of Wednesday, Malaysia reported a total of 327,253 COVID-19 cases and 1,220 deaths.
Its vaccination programme has kicked off last month, and Mr Muhyiddin, who received his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Putrajaya earlier on Wednesday, said more than 300,000 Malaysians have received their first vaccine dose.
TRAVEL MIGHT BE ALLOWED WHEN MORE PEOPLE ARE VACCINATED
In his Wednesday address, Mr Muhyiddin announced that the allocation for the COVID-19 immunisation programme would be increased from RM3 billion to RM5 billion to reach herd immunity status faster by December, instead of the first quarter of 2022.
With the immunisation plan, a nationwide lockdown or MCO might no longer be needed, he added.
"The government might no longer need to carry out an MCO covering the entire country or a state. Instead, movement control will only be carried out according to locality and focused on related clusters only," he said.
The prime minister added that when more people have been inoculated in the near future, the government would be ready to allow inter-state travel in stages and create special green lanes for cross-border travel involving air transportation.
"Give the government some time and space to examine all risks before a decision is made," he said.
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Before this, the government has announced five economic aid packages, namely Prihatin worth RM250 billion, Prihatin SMEs (RM10 billion), Penjana (RM35 billion), Kita Prihatin (RM10 billion) and Permai (RM15 billion).
Pemerkasa brought the total value of the packages to RM340 billion.