PUTRAJAYA: Controlling the spread of Covid-19 is part of the initiatives spelled out under the People and Economic Strategic Empowerment Programme (Pemerkasa), which includes efforts to accelerate vaccination programme and no longer impose blanket movement control order across the country.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the government would implement a more targeted Covid-19 containment strategy backed by science and data to reduce the negative impact on the country’s economy.
“Taking into consideration the ongoing National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, the government may no longer need to impose a blanket MCO nationwide or state-wide.
“Instead, targeted movement control restrictions will be implemented based on localities and imposed only on specific clusters, ” Muhyiddin said in a special address yesterday to unveil Pemerkasa, the government’s sixth economic stimulus package to date.
The Prime Minister said allocation for the immunisation programme would be increased from RM3bil to RM5bil to accelerate the target for herd immunity by December 2021, compared to the initial target of the first quarter of 2022.
To achieve this target, 15,000 personnel will be stationed at nearly 950 vaccination centres nationwide.
To date, more than 300,000 people have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The Prime Minister said the third initiative to control Covid-19 infectivity is to implement a more transparent and stricter enforcement of regulation to ensure the pandemic remains under control.
To protect workers, the Safe@Work initiative will be implemented where employers and companies are to provide a conducive workplace and accommodation for their workers.
Muhyiddin said to encourage companies to participate in this voluntary programme, the government has agreed to provide additional tax deduction for manufacturing and manufacturing-related companies on rental of premises and worker hostel facilities.
Expenses eligible for this deduction is limited to RM50,000 for each company which is registered with the International Trade and Industry Ministry and has complied with the Safe@Work audit.
Companies can register for this starting April 1.
In addition, employers who undertake the Covid-19 testing for their employees are allowed a further tax deduction on the expenses incurred until Dec 31.
To strengthen the country’s competitiveness, the government will attract more investments, strengthen trade, increase the adoption of digital technology and ensure sustainable growth, said the Prime Minister, adding that initiatives would focus on automation and digitalisation, reducing the digital divide, promoting investments and export markets as well as promoting sustainable financing.
“To reduce the digital divide, the government will increase the subsidy for households with schoolchildren to RM300 for the purchase of smartphones or new devices. As a result the allocation for this programme will increase to RM2bil and the Jaringan Prihatin Programme will be launched in May, ” he said, calling on telecommunication companies to offer affordable packages.
During the tabling of Budget 2021, the government announced the Jaringan Prihatin Programme to ensure more people have access to the Internet, reducing the digital divide for the B40 group and supporting the National Digitalisation Agenda.
As for initiatives under automation and digitalisation, Bank Negara has increased the Targeted Relief and Recovery Facility by RM2bil and the Automation and Digitalisation Facility by RM700mil.
With this addition, the facility provided by Bank Negara for SMEs stands at RM6bil, said the Prime Minister, adding that the targeted moratorium assistance affecting 1.4 million individual borrowers and SMEs was still open to applicants.