Covid-19 bill sets aside RM45 billion for relief fund

The government seeks parliamentary approval for a RM45 billion fund to cushion the economic impact of Covid-19.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government today tabled the Covid-19 bill providing for expenditure of up to RM45 billion in programmes to cushion the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The bill provides for a temporary increase in the national debt ratio from 55% to 60%. Under current law, the government cannot raise loans to amounts beyond 55% of the gross domestic product.

The bill, tabled by Deputy Finance Minister Mohd Shahar Abdullah, is called the Temporary Measures for Government Financing (Covid-19) Bill 2020

It had been long-awaited by opposition MPs who have been up in arms over their inability to debate the government’s measures and various economic stimulus packages that have been previously announced.

The bill provides for a RM45 billion fund for 29 stimulus programmes, among which are:

Wages and job retention, workers retention and workers hiring incentive and training programmes (RM16.8 billion);

Prihatin aid (RM4 billion), skills and upskilling programmes (RM2 billion);

SME grants (RM1.9 billion); micro credit loans under Bank Simpanan Nasional and Tekun Nasional (RM1 billion);

Covid-19 related expenses by the Health Ministry (RM1 bilion).

The bill provides that the Covid-19 fund is only to be used for economic stimulus packages and economic recovery plans.

It provides powers for the minister to channel the funds from one programme to another if there is any surplus.

The bills also seeks to clarify that any balance from the Covid-19 fund will be paid into the Development Fund.