RM90mil for Johor victims

ISKANDAR PUTERI: More than RM90mil has been allocated as immediate relief to help more than 350,000 people to weather the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, says Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad.

This includes an allocation of at least RM75.3mil of one-off cash handouts to various target groups; RM5mil for tourism industry players, and RM11mil for the state government’s food bank programme for the urban poor, he added.

In his maiden Budget speech, Hasni said the allocation -- which falls under the Johor Welfare agenda – is a form of intervention and immediate help to the groups that are affected by the current economic situation.

“This intervention and assistance will not be the last one as it will

continue to be renewed in the future, ” he said during his two-hour speech at the state assembly here yesterday.

In detailing the allocations, Hasni said that the allocations will include a RM500 one-off cash handout for some 47,159 traders who are renting premises under the local authorities, RM150 each for some 35,000 university students under the B40 category and RM500 each for taxi and limousine drivers.

Some 2,071 registered bus operators will also get the RM500 each, and RM100 each to some 20,000 e-hailing drivers and delivery person. On top of that, the state government will also provide RM100 each to primary and secondary students from families with income between RM3,000 and RM7,000 a month, as well as RM200 each to some 30,000 frontliners.

Money matters: Hasni (centre) holding the Johor Budget 2021. Looking on are state agriculture, Agro-based and Rural Development committee chairman Datuk Samsolbari Jamali (left) and Johor state secretary Datuk Azmi Rohani.Money matters: Hasni (centre) holding the Johor Budget 2021. Looking on are state agriculture, Agro-based and Rural Development committee chairman Datuk Samsolbari Jamali (left) and Johor state secretary Datuk Azmi Rohani.

“The state government will continue to improve its approach in helping those in need and one of the ways to do so is through its COMB (Cari Orang Memerlukan Bantuan or Look for Those in Need) programme.

“The programme focuses on both rural and urban communities, those in Felda (Federal Land Development Authority), in the estate as well as in the interior parts of the state, ” said Hasni.

Meanwhile, the RM5mil allocation for the tourism industry players include RM1,000 incentives to registered tour guides in Johor and an allocation of RM320,000 to some 16 tourism state and district associations.

There is a RM2,000 cash handout each to 586 tour agency companies, entertainment tax exemption for theme parks and family entertainment centres and business licence fees exemption for some 1,031 tourism companies.

In outlining the current economic scenario and projections for Johor, Hasni said that Johor’s economic drop this year is projected to be between 3% and 5% in 2020, which is worse than that of the national figure.

“What is most worrying is that an estimated 5% to 10% of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Johor are expected to shut down due to disruption in cash flow, ” he said.

He added the rate of poverty incidence in the state is expected to increase from 3.9% in 2019 to between 6% and 8% this year, while extreme poverty has increased from 0.2% previously to between 2% and 2.5%.

For 2021, the state is expected to have a deficit budget of RM248.14mil.

“This is based on our income projections of RM1.60bil while our spending is expected to stand at about RM1.85bil, ” Hasni said.

However, Hasni expressed confidence that the state would be able to weather the present unprecedented circumstances and bounce back with an economic growth of between 6.6% and 7.6% in 2021.

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