global economy

Malaysia to roll out $9.7 billion more in stimulus as virus spreads

Reuters
Malaysia to roll out $9.7 billion more in stimulus as virus spreads

People wait to receive AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 5, 2021.

Lim Huey Teng/Reuters

Malaysia's new relief measures include handouts, loan moratorium to some, grants to small and medium businesses, and salary subsidies

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday, May 31, announced an additional 40-billion-ringgit ($9.70-billion) stimulus package, ahead of the imposition of stricter lockdown measures this week to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19.

The Southeast Asian nation is seeing a surge in coronavirus infections, with the number of new daily cases greater than India’s on a per capita basis.

Malaysia saw record daily infections and deaths on Saturday, May 29, though the numbers have dipped since.

Malaysia enters a strict two-week lockdown starting on Tuesday, June 1, with only essential manufacturing and service sectors allowed to operate.

“If drastic action is not taken immediately, it is of concern that the healthcare system in our country will collapse and we will face a greater catastrophe,” Muhyiddin said in a televised address.

The new aid package includes a 5-billion-ringgit fiscal injection, despite the government having limited fiscal space, he said.

Since last year, Malaysia has rolled out around 340 billion ringgit in aid and stimulus measures to cushion the impact of the pandemic on the economy.

The new relief measures include 2.1 billion ringgit in handouts, loan moratorium to some, grants to small and medium businesses, and salary subsidies for those affected by lockdown measures, Muhyiddin said.

The government will also spend 1 billion ringgit to boost healthcare capacity, he said.

Malaysia’s economy was on the path to recovery in the first quarter before infections began to spike.

It fell 5.6% in 2020, its worst annual performance since the Asian financial crisis, but the central bank had projected growth of 6% to 7.5% this year. – Rappler.com

$1 = 4.1220 ringgit