Dewan Rakyat to debate on long-awaited Covid-19 bill

KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat will begin debating today the bill on temporary measures to lessen the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Temporary Measures for Reducing The Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) Bill 2020, first tabled by Deputy Finance Minister Mohd Shahar Abdullah on Aug 6, seeks to support the various economic stimulus packages announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin earlier this year.

These includes the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package, the Prihatin SME Economic Stimulus Package and the Short-term Economic Recovery Plan.

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz, while reading the bill today, told MPs that although different views would be raised, the bill was crucial to the well-being of the people.

“The bill is the best way to carry out the recovery plans,” he said.

Over 30 MPs are expected to debate on the bill, after which MPs will vote for or against it.

Among others, the bill seeks to increase expenditure of up to RM45 billion in programmes to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.

It also 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.

If raised, the debt limit will return to 55% on Jan 1, 2023.