Public feedback received by MCA Youth on the government’s recent announcement in the RM40bil Strategic Programme to Empower the People and Economy Plus (Pemerkasa Plus) economic stimulus package has unfortunately once again ignored the middle-income group (M40).
MCA Youth recommends that the government should insert a special personal income tax relief to benefit the M40.
While various quarters affirm that while a total lockdown to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic is inevitable, the government should also realise that this indirectly and directly affects all sectors and groups. Nobody is immune to its impacts as the market’s economic chain is inherently closely intertwined.
The government’s concern for low-income groups and affected sectors is indeed understandable. However, it is still in the early stage of the total lockdown, and the government still has time to ensure that its measures will benefit more layers of society.
For example, the re-introduction of the moratorium programme is only aimed at all B40 groups, affected individuals, micro-businesses and SMEs that are not allowed to operate during the current lockdown period. It does not seem to include the M40 and other sectors.
Those who meet the above criteria are given the option to choose an automatic moratorium on loan repayment for three months or reduce the instalment repayment by 50% for six months. However, one needs to contact the bank.
Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat
The government has allocated an additional RM2.1bil to the Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat (BPR) programme to assist low-income families and single people, whereby households with incomes lower than RM2,500 will receive RM500. RM300 will be disbursed to households with incomes of between RM2,501 and RM5,000, while single persons may also receive RM100. However, the M40 is ignored.
According to global research, the Covid-19 pandemic has incurred uncertain future prospects, financial difficulties, social isolation, and a lack of quality sleep may be detrimental to the mental health of young adults.
Regarding gender, child-raising and imbalances in family care, there are increased risks of domestic violence during the pandemic. These are the key factors that challenge mental health, and many of those affected hail from middle-income to well-off families.
Much to people’s disquiet, none of the measures announced by the Prime Minister provides information in detail.
The relevant government ministries and bodies are urged to announce the details of these measures as early as possible. The sooner such information is conveyed, people’s anxieties need not be prolonged further.
MCA Youth chief
Datuk Nicole Wong Siaw Ting