PM has done a splendid job since taking over
Published on: Monday, June 15, 2020
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PRIME Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in presenting the Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana), announced a RM35 billion allocation for 40 initiatives to empower the people, propel businesses and stimulate the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He highlighted the stark realities about the state of the world economy and how Malaysia was responding to this and other challenges as a result of Covid-19.

All countries are facing the kind of negative economic growth never seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In Malaysia, the number of jobless people has ballooned to 610,000 and is expected to peak at 860,000 by the end of this year.

However, it is heartening to note that the government is introducing a slew of measures to cushion the effects of this economic gloom and doom. It has introduced economic stimulus packages amounting to RM260 billion while opening up several sectors to ensure the nation’s economic viability.

Among the latest measures are:

A THREE-MONTH extension for the Wage Subsidy Programme at a cost of RM5 billion to support 2.2 million workers;

FORTY initiatives worth RM35 billion to stimulate the economy;

SIX months’ salary for the unemployed worth RM800 per month for those aged below 40, and RM1,000 per month for the disabled and those aged above 40; and;

AN allocation of RM2 billion for skills improvement programmes for youth and the unemployed, benefiting more than 200,000 people. 

People must respond quickly, positively and responsibly. For those unemployed, they should use the next six months to learn new skills, start new enterprises and tap opportunities in the gig economy.

Explore opportunities in the digital economy, including digital entrepreneurship. This economy will expand as firms will increasingly rely on artificial intelligence for basic routines and for more complex tasks.

Of course, there will be a large number of unemployed or unemployable people who may need other kinds of assistance such as counselling to cope with their despair and helplessness.

While the government’s efforts to provide aid to those affected by the pandemic must be lauded, perhaps it could do more?

For instance, could it do more for the Employment Retention Programme? Could it benefit from a further injection of funds? 

The funding of RM240 million will cover only 66,000 employees, which is a small percentage of the projected number of unemployed people. Also, could the funding be increased for the Wage Subsidy Programme?

The additional sum of RM5 billion for three months appears to be on the low side because this amounts to only 0.6 per cent of wages per month in the private sector.

In the United Kingdom, the subsidy is up to 80 per cent over eight months. Singapore, Canada and France provide wage subsidies of up to 75 per cent.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye

Chairman, Alliance for Safe Community


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