Prime Minister YB Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin recently announced the PEMERKASA (Program Strategik Memperkasa Rakyat dan Ekonomi) programme, a stimulus package for the nation targeting vulnerable groups and economic sectors that were hit hard by the pandemic.
PEMERKASA has an allocation of RM20 billion, with a new fiscal injection of RM11 billion from the government.
20 strategic initiatives will be rolled out under this programme, with 5 focus areas which are:
- Controlling the spread of COVID-19;
- Spearheading economic recovery;
- Strengthening the country’s competitiveness;
- Ensuring inclusivity; and
- Transforming the economy.
Controlling The Spread Of COVID-19
1. COVID-19 Immunisation Programme
As of a few days ago, about 300,000 Malaysians have already been given the first dose of the vaccine.
However, the government will be increasing the allocation for the vaccine from RM3 billion to RM5 billion to reach the herd immunity target quicker by December 2021 instead of Q1 2022.
15,000 healthcare workers will be placed in 950 vaccine centres throughout the nation and RM200 per month will be given to those involved in the vaccination programme.
2. No More Nationwide MCO Implementation
To lessen the negative impacts of MCO on the national economy, the government won’t be implementing a nationwide MCO anymore. Instead, restrictions will be placed in relevant areas with clusters only.
3. Having A Stricter And More Transparent Law Enforcement
To protect workers’ welfare, MITI will be launching the Safe@Work initiative that requires employers to be responsible for providing a conducive work environment and place to stay for their workers.
Companies that register with Safe@Work will verify their contract workers to be COVID-19-free first before allowing them to be in the same space as the rest of the workers in their companies.
The government will also be granting each company up to RM50,000 additional tax deductions to manufacturing companies and manufacturing-related service companies on the rental expenses of their premises and employee’s dormitories. Companies can start registering starting from April 1, 2021.
Additional tax deductions will also be given to employers who pay for their employees’ COVID-19 screening tests until December 31, 2021.
Spearheading Economic Recovery
4. Implementing Small Projects Nationwide
To encourage more grassroots and small scale projects nationwide, the government promises an increase from RM2.5 billion to RM5 billion for these projects.
These small projects include the repair of infrastructure and public facilities damaged by floods, road repairs, etc. that will be dedicated to contractors of classes G1 to G4.
5. Special Grants 3.0 (Geran Khas Prihatin 3.0)
Eligible small businesses and SMEs struggling to keep their business open and operating will be given a one-off financial assistance of up to RM1,000.
For those who’ve never received this grant before, they can apply for it starting from April 1, 2021. This grant is predicted to benefit over a million businesses in the nation.
6. Micro-Credit Financing Facilities
An additional financing fund of RM500 million for micro-credit financing facilities will be given through programmes under BSN, TEKUN, MARA and SME Corp.
7. Job Retention And Employment Incentives
The government will be expanding the scope of employment incentives to include temporary and gig work:
- An allocation of RM300 million that will benefit 60,000 workers with RM600 each per month for 6 months.
- Every employer gets RM200 for every worker they successfully hired to cover temporary or gig work.
- RM700 million to extend the Wage Subsidy Programme 3.0 for another 3 months for tourism, wholesale, and retail businesses like the gym and spa.
- An apprenticeship subsidy of RM800 per month extended from 3 months to 6 months.
- Creation of the UpskillMalaysia and e-LaTiH platforms as an upskilling information centre and 300 free training courses respectively.
8. Revitalising The Tourism And Retail Sectors
Tourism and service tax exemptions will be extended for accommodations provided by hotel operators until December 31, 2021. Tax incentives will also be extended for tour operator companies until the year 2022.
There will also be entertainment duty exemptions on admission fees to entertainment venues such as theme parks, stage performances, sporting events and competitions as well as cinema screenings in all Federal Territories.
The scope of special individual income tax relief will be expanded and increased up to RM1,000 to cover travel packages purchased through travel agents registered with MOTAC.
A (Human Resources Development Fund) HRDF levy exemption will be provided for affected tourism and retail sector companies up to June 2021.
A one-off financial assistance of up to RM600 will be given to homestay businesses registered with MOTAC as well, which is predicted to benefit 4,000 homestay business owners.
Finally, the special 10% discount on electricity bills will be extended for another 3 months until June 30, 2021 to cushion costs for those in the tourism industry.
9. Reducing Company Burdens And Empowering Cooperatives
The fundraising limit will be increased from RM10 million to RM20 million and equity crowdfunding will be extended to unlisted limited companies.
The Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) has also agreed to increase the indebtedness threshold from RM10,000 to RM50,000.
SSM will also be providing free business registration to the B40 group and full-time IPT students looking to venture into entrepreneurship.
Strengthening The Country’s Competitiveness
10. Strengthening Our Business Environment
The National Authorized Economic Operator programme which provides a green route to eligible companies for export and import transactions will shorten the processing time for investment applications.
11. Automation And Digitalisation
To assist SMEs in obtaining loans, Bank Negara Malaysia has increased the Targeted Assistance and Rehabilitation Facility (TRRF) by RM2 billion and the Automation and Digitalisation Facility (ADF) by RM700 million. With this addition, the facilities provided by Bank Negara for the benefit of SMEs amounts to RM6 billion.
Under the MIDF, a total of RM200 million is provided for financing schemes for the development of automation, digitisation and use of green technology. MIDF has also agreed to reduce the loan interest rate from 5% to 3% for 12 months, starting from April 1, 2021.
To encourage SMEs to increase automation that can reduce dependence on foreign workers, the SME Bank will provide a loan fund of RM200 million to finance the purchase of machinery with a grant incentive of up to 20% on the value of the machine.
12. Reducing The Digital Gap
The subsidy of RM180 for buying a smartphone will be increased to RM300, specifically for households with school children that need to purchase smartphones or new devices.
To improve the quality of broadband services, especially in rural areas, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has allocated RM3.2 billion for 2021 to upgrade existing transmitter stations and provide fibre optic access.
MCMC will also be introducing the MyBAIKHATI programme as a device crowdsourcing initiative. It’s a collection campaign for used devices such as laptops that will be repaired and distributed to relevant beneficiaries.
13. Encouraging Investments And Export Markets
Among the measures to be implemented are the eBizLink initiative, a virtual and hybrid digital marketing platform, as well as the Globepreneur initiative to highlight more potential SMEs to the international market.
The Market Development Grant ceiling will also be raised from RM300,000 to RM500,000 for each company participating in international exhibitions.
14. Encouraging Sustainable Funding
To support the country’s commitment to achieving our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, the MySDG Trust Fund will be established to serve as a platform that enables various sources to fund projects that meet the SDG criteria.
15. Assisting With Income Loss
The government is allocating RM1.2 billion for 2.4 million recipients. A one-off financial assistance of RM500 will be given to those in the B40 group who have lost their income and an additional RM500 to Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat (BPR) recipients earning RM1,000 and below.
For individuals with a bankrupt status, the Malaysian Insolvency Department will facilitate their dealings with the bank in receiving government assistance.
Flexibility will be given to these individuals to open a bank account online through an email application to the branch of the Insolvency Department that administers their case. Any cash assistance credited will not incur any monthly installment deduction.
16. Improving the Urban Vulnerable Assistance Program
DBKL is establishing Anjung Kelana in Taman Desa Kuala Lumpur as a temporary shelter for the homeless.
An allocation of RM100 million for kitchenware assistance programmes will be granted through cashless purchase initiatives. The programme is expected to benefit 300,000 poor households in major cities across the country to help them to buy basic food items.
Those in the B40 group who are allowed to be quarantined at home due to COVID-19 are eligible to receive RM50 per day for a maximum of 14 days subject to confirmation by the medical officer.
A total of RM30 million will be allocated to expand health services nationwide like MyMedic@Wilayah through the KPT PRIHATIN, KOMUNITI SEJAHTERA (KRIS) programme in collaboration with a group of medical experts from the Hospital Pengajar Universiti.
17. Women’s Welfare
To empower women entrepreneurs, RM30 million will be provided by the SME and Micro SME e-Commerce Campaign and the Malaysia Online Shop Program to help them transition to the online marketplace. In addition, BSN will also provide a total of RM50 million for the PEMERKASA-NITA Micro-Financing Scheme to encourage women entrepreneurs to venture into business.
Additionally, an allocation of RM10 million in the form of a 70% matching fund for women entrepreneurs and self-employed women will also be provided under SOCSO’s Self-Employment Social Security Scheme.
18. OKU’s Welfare
The maximum salary eligibility limit in the Disabled Workers Allowance will be increased from RM1,200 to RM1,500 per month. The total allocation of RM26 million will benefit almost 5,000 disabled people.
RM20 million will also be allocated to the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to assist entrepreneurship programmes that strengthen marketing bakery products and handicrafts by the disabled and senior citizens.
In addition, people with disabilities can register and renew their business with SSM for free.
BSN has also provided a total of RM25 million under the Special Micro-credit Scheme for people with disabilities to venture into business with a financing limit of up to RM50,000 and an interest rate as low as 3%.
19. Youth’s Welfare
The Urban Community Economic Empowerment programme (PEKB) will be expanded with an additional allocation of RM10 million, bringing the total allocation for 2021 for this programme to RM21 million.
A total of 1,800 participants will benefit from entrepreneurship training and equipment that will be provided for free to follow the fields and courses involved.
Additionally, the Tunas Usahawan Belia Bumiputera programme will be allocated to produce a total of 250 new Bumiputera youth entrepreneurs.
Meanwhile, the New Gen Entrepreneur Online Bootcamp programme will be introduced for the purpose of preparation training and online business coaching for 2,000 youth entrepreneurs.
Finally, BSN will also offer the PEMERKASA-BELIA Micro-Financing Scheme at a rate as low as 3% to enable youths venturing into business to obtain financing of up to RM50,000.
20. Continuation Of Subsidies To Reduce The Cost Of Living
To protect consumers from the effects of oil prices increasing, the retail price of RON95 petrol and diesel is set at a ceiling price of RM2.05 per litre and RM2.15 per litre.
The government currently bears a subsidy of almost 30 cents per litre. In total, the Government will be bearing a total subsidy worth RM3 billion at current prices.
- You can read more about PEMERKASA here.
Featured Image Credit: Muhyiddin Yassin, Prime Minister