Stimulus package ‘effectively useful’ for only 2 months, says PH

Pakatan Harapan welcomes the one-off payout for households earning below RM4,000 per month as well as cash aid for unmarried individuals and students to buy items they need.

PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Harapan tonight described as “decent” the RM250 billion economic stimulus package unveiled this evening, but said it would have little impact on ordinary Malaysians beyond a two-month period.

The opposition coalition said it welcomed some of the initiatives announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the economy, including the one-off payout for households earning below RM4,000 every month as well as cash aid for unmarried individuals and students.

The package, it said, was good for “Makcik Kiah”, the character Muhyiddin used to represent ordinary Malaysians, for two months.

“But it won’t have much impact beyond a two-month period for the ‘Makcik Kiah’ and the rest of Malaysian workers and businesses,” PH said in a statement.

The statement was signed by PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

PH said as the package was “effectively useful” for only two months, the government should continue the Parliament sitting on May 18 or even sooner after the movement control order (MCO) ends.

The MCO, which began on March 18, was supposed to end on March 31 but was recently extended till April 14.

“This is to enable the government and the opposition to form bipartisan action plans for the nation to move forward, including formulating a new budget, taking into account all new scenarios and factors involved.”

PH also said that more needed to be done to assist small and medium industries (SMIs) which are bearing the economic brunt of the MCO.

The RM600 per worker wage subsidy, it said, was insufficient to mitigate the impact of the crisis and proposed that it be increased to RM1,200 per worker.

PH went on to say that while the stimulus package was touted to be RM250 billion, the actual direct government expenditure was only RM25 billion, which can be financed via additional government borrowings.

It also said that based on its rough calculation, around RM205 billion (out of the RM250 billion announced) were in fact merely deferments or loan guarantees.

There is an assumption in the thinking of the prime minister, PH said, that the businesses would still be interested in borrowing.

But that, it said, would only happen if the nation emerges from the MCO at some point and the businesses are still surviving, with economic demand still there for goods and services.

“We hope the government would further consider a much larger fiscal injection in the next few weeks as otherwise, the economy would still be in dire straits with more job losses.”

PH also called on Putrajaya to launch a “war-time” coordination for the procurement, production and supply of items such as food, Covid-19 test kits and sanitisers, among others.