PETALING JAYA: The country's economy is losing RM2.4bil every day business is suspended during the movement control order (MCO), says Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (pic).
The Prime Minister said however that the MCO was necessary to curb the spread of Covid-19 and save lives despite knowing that it would paralyse Malaysia's economic growth.
"But we had no choice. We had to take that step and deal with the impact it brought.
"Everyone would be affected because businesses couldn't run and exports were stopped. We needed a plan. If the MCO continued without proper planning, the economy Malaysia built over six decades would have collapsed," he said.
He said the impact from the MCO was big for every day that Malaysia's business was suspended, Malaysians lost RM2.4bil.
"A one-month delay in taking the steps that we have taken would have adversely impacted our entire economy.
"The RM260bil economic stimulus package is aimed at protecting our economy," he said during an interview aired over RTM1.
His priority, he added, was to ensure there would be minimal job losses.
To cushion the impact, Muhyiddin said the Finance Ministry was given two weeks to formulate the economic stimulus package.
He said the government was keeping small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) in mind when formulating the stimulus packages as they were an important pillar of the economy.
"SMEs contributed about 35% to Malaysia's GDP (gross domestic product) and generated about 70% of the jobs in the market so they are important.
"Which is why about RM100bil is dedicated to sustaining SME businesses," he said.
In the 45-minute interview, the Prime Minister was also asked about the biggest challenge faced by the government in implementing the first three phases of the MCO.
Muhyiddin said the issue of health was his main concern as he wanted to ensure that the people of Malaysia remained safe in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Describing it as an extraordinary challenge because the people had never faced such movement restrictions before, the prime minister said all measures taken by the government were aimed at curbing the spread of the deadly disease.
"To me, even one death is a big loss to the country. That is why the action we took concerning the public was primarily to contain the spread of this pandemic.
"It is for this reason that we enforced the MCO to ban gatherings, close schools, suspend industrial activities and (compel people to) stay at home. It is very unusual but I feel it helps our efforts in this fight (against Covid-19),” he added.
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