Timely aid brings some respite


THE Penang government’s RM75mil Covid-19 economic stimulus package has been described as a help that is promptly given in times of need.

Several people who are expected to benefit from the financial aid said the measure was timely and necessary in these trying economical times.

Fried rice and noodle stall operator Chermaine Loo, 25, said business had dropped by 80% since the movement control order (MCO) was enforced.

“Besides facing poor business, I still have to look after the welfare of my two workers.

“The management is kind enough to waive the rental during the MCO.

“With the RM500 given by the state, we can hold on a bit longer, ” said Loo, who operates a stall in New World Park.

On March 25, the Penang government launched a RM75mil Covid-19 economic stimulus package which would benefit 410,000 people from “the most vulnerable groups” in the state.

The incentive was meant for the working class and small businesses to ensure business continuity and the development of the state post Covid-19.

Recipients for the economic aid included hawkers, small business operators, taxi drivers, trishaw riders, e-hailing drivers, the physically challenged and those from the B40 group.

Among the package is a one-off payment of RM500 for traders and licensed hawkers, including food truck operators and those in night markets and pasar tani.

The one-off payment of RM500 will also be given to licensed tourist guides, the physically challenged and state Agenda Ekonomi Saksama (Just Economic Aid) recipients.

The elected representatives, including the opposition members, will also receive RM30,000 each to help their constituents during this difficult period.

The funds have been disbursed since April 1 with no application needed as the state government already has details of the target groups.

Trishaw rider C. Vijayakumar, 57, is surviving on food and ang pow from generous donors since the MCO was imposed.

“Before the MCO, I was able to make between RM80 to RM100 daily just by ferrying people around.

“Now, I have no customers as nobody is on the streets.

“We can only sit and wait, ” said Vijayakumar, who used to be a grass cutter.

A total of 2,248 taxi drivers and 318 trishaw riders are benefitting from the assistance amounting to RM513,600.

Each of them received an additional RM200, besides the scheduled financial incentive of RM300, totalling RM500.

Berapit assemblyman Heng Lee Lee said she would use the RM30,000 allocation to buy food for the needy, especially those who are not registered with the state Welfare Department.

She said the Village Community Management Councils (MPKK) would work out a budget and identify those in need of food supplies.

“Some of the residents here are disabled who cannot cook and go out to buy food during the MCO.

“We have to buy them food and support their livelihood until the MCO is over, ” she said.

A total of 3,091 staff members of Seberang Prai City Council are also eligible for the aid, with each of them receiving RM300.

Its mayor Datuk Rozali Mohamud said the incentive would certainly come in handy for the frontliners battling the disease.“They are considered the high-risk groups. They have to purchase sanitisers and other necessities for their family.

“They also have to spend more on food as meals taken away from food outlets now cost more, ” he said.

Penang police chief Comm Datuk Sahabudin Abd Manan said he was grateful for the state’s initiative that would benefit the frontliners with RM300 each.

“The incentive will boost the morale of those at the forefront enforcing the MCO and safeguarding the people’s wellbeing, ” he

said.

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