KUALA LUMPUR, April 26 ―Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said last night that the RM250 billion stimulus package was a bold measure to try and shield the economy and the livelihoods of millions of Malaysians from the ravages of Covid-19.
In a joint interview with Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM), Bernama TV and Astro Awani aired last night, Muhyiddin said his administration knew the step was timely as the country was losing RM2.4 billion in revenue each day the movement control order (MCO) was in effect.
He said that the RM250 billion stimulus package was intended to keep everyone afloat and help them weather the trying times.
“The first issue which we paid attention to is to manage the outbreak itself. For this, we have already understood in terms of the steps and actions taken by the Health Ministry (MOH), but at the same time, because of the MCO, the effects can be said to be very huge to the lives of everyday people, or to the economy of our nation.
“This is proven as when our business does not run for a day, we lose RM2.4 billion. Just count and asses the number of days which we have already imposed the MCO,” Muhyiddin said, adding that the government had no choice but to do so in order to save lives.
He added that the government was painfully aware of the MCO’s consequence to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), but stressed that it was impossible to put a price tag on human lives.
However, he said his administration proceeded as they were confident that they could quickly restore the country’s economy once Covid-19 is contained.
“So in such a situation, we thought that if we continued this MCO without a clear plan, where is this going to take us? The economy we built up over six decades would collapse.
“That’s why we took a step that was rather brave and unprecedented,” he said, referring to the RM250 billion stimulus package.
Muhyiddin conceded that not all SMEs will survive the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic and efforts to contain it, but stressed that the government was taking every available step to keep as many going as possible in order to preserve jobs.
“I also don’t deny that individual businesses, micro, informal, those sectors are also important because they want to generate income to take care of their families.
“That’s why we do not have much choice. We want to make sure that those sectors can still afford to be maintained. There will be some businesses which cannot sustain and will be forced to close down, but as best possible, they must be kept running, because we are expecting large contributions from them,” he added.
Muhyiddin said that this was why the government allocated RM100 billion specifically for SMEs in its stimulus package.
He noted that a large portion of the nation’s economy depended on SME activities, which involves about 70 per cent of the workforce, generating about 35 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
“So they are a very important component and in fact more important than some sectors,” he added.