In an address to the nation yesterday (20 July), Malaysia's Prime Minister Muhyiddin, shared a series of updates on the country's situation during the ongoing Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), including on the PRIHATIN packages that were introduced.

These updates are summarised as follows:

Aid for businesses and employees

RM7.4bn in wage subsidies have been given to 834,000 employers. These wage subsidies will be channelled through to a total of 6.7mn employees under these employers.

At the same time, more than 2.75mn jobs have been saved under the Wage Subsidy programme and the Employee Retention Programme, as part of the government's Prihatin and Prihatin Plus packages. 

Apart from that, both packages also benefited more than 800,000 businesses, including micro- and small and medium enterprises. In fact, the support packages have contributed to more than 3% of the country's GDP in 2020, PM Muhyiddin noted.

Thus, he added, if the Movement Control Order were to ever be re-enforced, it could have an impact on the projected GDP growth for 2021, while the unemployment rate could rise higher than what was observed in May 2020 (5.3%).

Aid for e-hailing drivers, entrepreneurs, households, and more

In addition to the aid given out to businesses and employers, to date, around 10.4mn Bantuan Prihatin Nasional recipients have benefited from a total cash aid of RM11.14bn. At the same time, a cash allowance of RM500, totalling to RM34mn, has also been distributed to 1.4mn e-hailing drivers; while a total of 477,000 taxi drivers, tour guides and bus drivers have received a cash allowance of RM600 totalling to RM28.8mn.

In terms of household benefits, PM Muhyiddin highlighted that 7.7mn consumers have received a 50% discount on their Tenaga Nasional (TNB) electricity bills, totalling to RM312.32mn; and 1.4mn consumers have received a 15% discount amounting to RM185.75mn.

Further, he added that 65% of household have received a moratorium on bank loan repayments totalling RM38.4bn.

As for entrepreneurs, of this group, 545,000 micro-entrepreneurs have received special grants with a total value of RM1.6bn.

Malaysians cannot take the RMCO easy, and must continue practising new normal habits

Apart from the above, PM Muhyiddin also talked about the increase in COVID-19 positive cases in recent days, despite numbers remaining low, with daily figures now back up to two digits. Further, the country has seen 13 new clusters being formed during this period, thus stressing that Malaysians should not take the situation lightly.

"I am sure you do not want the government to re-implement the lockdown if COVID-19 cases increase sharply. I also pray and hope that we do not have to reach that level," he said, noting its negative effect on the economy.

Thus, he noted the need to continue practising new normal habits such as the wearing of face masks, keeping a safe distance of one metre from one another, avoiding crowded and cramped spaces, and more.

He also reminded those returning from abroad to observed the quarantine order for the full 14 days, avoiding contact with other family members, and notifying the nearest district health office if any symptoms of COVID-19 occur.

"If you fail to comply with these segregation instructions, penalties may be imposed under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 if convicted.

"If necessary, the government will place Malaysians returning home from overseas at quarantine centers to control import cases more effectively. Law enforcement will also be enhanced with heavier fines imposed on those found to be in violation of laws and regulations."

PM Muhyiddin also said the government is considering making it mandatory to wear face masks in public. 

Photo / Screengrab of PM Muhyiddin's speech, PMO website