Malaysia Unveils $4.9 Billion Package to Jumpstart Economy

Malaysia announced a 20 billion ringgit ($4.9 billion) package to revitalize economic activity as Covid infections slow and vaccines are rolled out.

The plan will include a 11 billion ringgit fiscal injection, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised address Wednesday. There will also be no more blanket lockdowns, he said, adding that any movement control orders will be done at localities and clusters, he said.

The decision comes a day before the one-year anniversary of the virus lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the pandemic. The number of new daily cases has been falling since January’s peak, sparking optimism the economy will improve in coming months. Tuesday’s tally was the smallest since early December.

The ringgit held earlier losses, trading 0.2% weaker at 4.1213 per dollar.

Muhyiddin in January announced 15-billion ringgit of additional stimulus to support the economy after the country declared a state of emergency to help curb the spread of coronavirus. In November, the government unveiled a record 322.5 billion ringgit budget for 2021 to spur activity and support growth.

Malaysia’s economy is expected to grow by 6.7% this year, and by 4.8% in 2022, recovering from a 5.6% contraction last year, Economy Minister Mustapa Mohamed said on Tuesday, citing data from the World Bank.

Other measures announced today include:

  • Discount on electricity bills extended to June 30
  • Tax breaks on tourism extended till Dec. 31
  • One-time payout of 500 ringgit to the poorest 40%, known as the B40
  • Equity crowdfunding expanded to unlisted companies
  • A 20 million ringgit grant for palm-oil machinery

As part of the package, the government will spend 3 billion ringgit to 5 billion ringgit to accelerate the immunization target to December, from the initial target of the first quarter of 2022, said Muhyiddin, who took the second dose of the Covid vaccine on Wednesday.

Over 5.6 million people have registered for vaccination and 360,000 of them have been vaccinated so far, he said.

(A previous version of this story corrected the month in first bullet point.)

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