KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 — Malaysians will get incentives if they travel locally in the form of tax relief and discount vouchers as part of the 2020 Economic Stimulus Package announced today.
Interim prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced this initiative as part of a strategy to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 virus outbreak on the local tourism industry.
To stimulate demand for domestic tourism, Dr Mahathir said Malaysians will get a personal income tax relief of up to RM1,000 on spending related to domestic tourism.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysians will also be eligible to get digital vouchers for domestic tourism of up to RM100 per person for domestic flights, rails and hotel accommodations, with the government to allocate RM500 million for these vouchers and matching grants for tourism promotion.
He said the government will also relax existing guidelines that restrict government agencies’ use of hotels in order to help with the reduced tourism demand.
Dr Mahathir urged hotels and shopping malls to contribute even as he announced initiatives for the tourism-related industry, which include a 15 per cent discount in monthly electricity bills from April to September for them.
“In the spirit of shared responsibility to overcome current challenges, the government calls on industry players to play their part – for hotels to offer discounts and shopping malls to reduce rentals to their tenants,” he said.
He added that Malaysia Airport Holdings Berhad will also provide rebates for shop rentals at airports as well as landing and parking charges.
Acknowledging that the lower number of tourist arrivals has negatively impacted those reliant on tourism for their livelihood, Dr Mahathir said there will be a one-off payment of RM600 each to taxi drivers, tourist bus drivers, tourist guides and registered trishaw drivers.
Other than the stimulation of the tourism sector and aid for those affected, the government said it also wanted to encourage employers to further invest in raising their employees’ productivity during the economic slowdown, noting that double deduction will be given on money spent on approved tourism-related training.
“The government will also provide up to RM100 million on a matching grant basis to HRDF to fund an additional 40,000 employees from the tourism and other affected sectors,” he said, adding that there will be a separate RM50 million subsidy for short digital skills courses and highly-skilled courses for 100,000 Malaysians.
He said hotels and travel-related companies will also be exempted from the Human Resource Development Fund levies from April to September.
Malaysians who lost their jobs can rely on the retrenchment fund Employment Insurance System with a current pool of RM1.1 billion, with the EIS to provide trainees with a daily training allowance of RM30 and to increase the claimable training cost from RM4,000 to RM6,000 for affected sectors.
The entire economic stimulus package worth RM20 billion has three strategies, namely to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, spurring rakyat-centric economic growth, and promoting quality investments.
The stimulus package was introduced to ensure Malaysia’s economy will weather a further anticipated slowdown as a result of the global spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Locally, Malaysia has managed to contain the virus, resulting in only 22 infection cases to date, 20 who have fully recovered and discharged the remaining two warded in stable conditions.