KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has announced an economic stimulus package worth RM250 billion (US$58 billion) on Friday (Mar 27) to weather the impact of COVID-19. 

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised address that the stimulus package comprises special allowances for healthcare providers, one-off cash aid and microcredit scheme for small- and medium-size enterprises, among others. 

Of the total, RM128 billion will be spent on public welfare, RM100 billion will be used to support businesses, while RM2 billion will be used to strengthen the country’s economy, he added.

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This came as Malaysia implemented a movement control order (MCO) starting from Mar 18 to rein in the spread of the contagious disease. Livelihoods were affected by the closure of borders, schools and non-essential businesses. 

The MCO, originally imposed for two weeks, has been extended by another two weeks until Apr 14. As of Friday, Malaysia reported 2,031 cases – the highest in Southeast Asia – and 24 deaths. 

A RM20 billion economic stimulus package was first announced by then interim prime minister Mahathir Mohamad on Feb 27, to be implemented over a six-month period. 

The country’s gross domestic product growth in 2020 is estimated to be in the range of 3.2 per cent to 4.2 per cent, he added. The original target was 4.8 per cent. 

READ: Missing the little things – What life is like under Malaysia’s movement control order

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Mr Muhyiddin, in a televised address on Wednesday, has promised to unveil a “more comprehensive, people-oriented” economic stimulus package on Friday. He pledged that no one will be left behind. 

“Whether you are a taxi driver, Grab driver, farmer, restaurant owner, nasi lemak seller, banana fritters seller … the government will try its best to ensure that you will all benefit,” Mr Muhyiddin said. 

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