Country's economic recovery momentum requires more funding, says Finance Minister

KUALA LUMPUR: An additional RM45bil in Covid-19 funding was crucial in maintaining the nation's economic recovery momentum, said Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

"If this Bill is not passed, the rakyat will not get the aid and benefits to rise up again after facing the challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic since earlier this year," he said when tabling the Temporary Measures for Government Financing (Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19)) (Amendment) Bill 2021 for its second reading in Dewan Rakyat on Monday (Oct 11).

Among the programmes under the Wang Kumpulan Covid-19 (WKC) fund, he said, were the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional, wage subsidy and microcredit loans.

He said that the Bill would increase expenditure by RM45bil, from RM65bil to RM110bil under the fund.

Also increased, he noted, was the Federal government’s statutory debt limit from 60% to 65% of gross domestic product (GDP).

He said this was necessary as the threshold was reached in September with RM5bil left in the fund.

Zafrul cited recent positive indicators to show that the nation's economic recovery was on the right momentum.

"Our stock remains active and recorded an inflow of almost RM2bil between August and September," he said.

He added that gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 7.1% for the first quarter of this year compared to a negative growth of 8.4% for the same period last year.

He said that foreign direct investment had also doubled since the first quarter of this year.

He urged MPs from both sides to support the Bill.

The Bill is expected to be passed this evening (Oct 11).

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