PM set to announce fresh stimulus to address businesses affected by MCO

A general worker walks along closed shops on Jalan Pudu in Kuala Lumpur, on the 18th day of the movement control order. The government will announce another stimulus package to specifically address millions of workers in the SME category affected by the lockdown.

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will announce fresh financial assistance that will help workers in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by the closure of businesses under the movement control order (MCO).

This is in addition to the RM250 billion Covid-19 rescue plan, dubbed the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package, announced last month.

The latest plan could see benefit some six million Malaysians employed in the SME category.

On March 27, Muhyiddin announced cash aid as well as wage subsidies, moratoriums on bank loans and delays to income tax submissions costing Putrajaya billions of ringgit.

The earlier rescue plan had also set aside RM3 billion under the Special Relief Fund for SMEs with a reduced interest rate from 3.75% to 3.5%.

But while the measures fulfilled the main objective of the government to ensure there is food on the table for millions of people who lost their livelihoods due to the MCO, there have been concerns that it is not enough to address the ravaging impact of the virus containment plan on businesses.

SMEs account for about 98.5% of businesses with some six million workers, contributing a little over one-third of the gross domestic product (GDP).