Malaysia's Minister of Finance, Tengku Zafrul Aziz, has released the 21st report by the Economic Stimulus Implementation & Coordination Unit Between National Agencies (LAKSANA), which details the country's progress on the PENJANA package.
The initiative is divided into three goals:
- Empowering the people
- Business recovery
- Economic stimulation
PENJANA goal #1: Empowering the people
First, the Health Care Scheme for the B40 Group (PeKa B40) is a scheme fully funded by the government and regulated by the Ministry of Health, that emphasises the need for the early detection of infectious diseases, especially as they get older.
Between 1 July 2020 to 4 September 2020, a total of 73,592 applications worth RM4.5mn were received for this scheme.
Second, is the Social Assistance Programme for Vulnerable People. As of 4 September 2020, a total of RM61.7mn has been channelled and has benefited 205,578 beneficiaries in the following groups:
- Persons with disabilities: RM55.7mn (185,713 recipients)
- Home assistance services: RM544,500 (1,815 recipients)
- Single mothers: RM5.4mn (18,050 recipients)
Third, involves recruitment incentive programmes and training assistance. A total of RM1.5bn has been allocated for employer recruitment promotion programmes thus far under this initiative, with a total of 28,577 employees managing to secure jobs.
Fourth, as of 4 September 2020, a total of RM10.41bn in wage subsidies has been approved under the PENJANA Wage Subsidy Programme, benefitting more than 2.62mn workers.
Fifth, involves the PENJANAGig programme under the supervision of the Social Service Organisation (SOCSO).
Based on the information found in the report,, awareness of the initiative is still low among gig workers. From July 2020 up till now, only 0.8% or 2,533 gig economy workers work are under PENJANAGig, out of the target of 300,000 workers.
Sixth, covers the Global Online Workforce (GLOW) programme.
The gig economy is a segment of the economy that has become increasingly popular lately, especially among the younger generation. This programme, led by the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has been around since 2016. To date, it has been attended by almost 53,000 people with a total income value of more than RM168mn.
The GLOW programme extended under PENJANA aims to introduce new style career opportunities, by intensively guiding Malaysians as digital freelancers who are able to offer their service expertise to the global network through the available digital platform.
This initiative will benefit up to 10,000 gig economy workers and open up new job opportunities. Since registrations opened on 20 August 2020, a total of 457 workers have been registered and the training programme for the first series will start in September 2020.
PENJANA goal #2: Business recovery
As SMEs play an important role as drivers of national economic growth, the PENJANA initiative emphasises specific strategies to support SMEs through increased access to finances, to increase their capabilities and capacity.
One aspect of this is through the TEKUN Business Recovery Scheme, which helps to maintain the cash flow of micro SMEs so they remain sustainable without needing to resort to layoffs. As of 4 September 2020, a total of RM62.7mn has been channelled through to and utilised by 9,313 micro SMEs.
Second, involves the PENJANA COVID-19 package for SMEs. The government has allocated RM2bn in funds and gives priority to SMEs that have not yet received loans from banks. As of 4 September 2020, a total of 2,131 SME applications have been approved with a loan value of RM562.3mn.
Third, covers the PENJANA Tourism Fund, which aims to support local micro, small and medium enterprises in the tourism sector which have been affected by COVID-19. Eligible companies can apply for financing up to RM300,000, while micro SMEs can apply up for to RM75,000 at a rate of up to one year for a financing period of up to seven years. A total of 12 financial institutions are involved in this financing scheme.
PENJANA goal #3: Economic stimulation
The Malaysia government launched Sukuk PRIHATIN in August, to open up opportunities for Malaysians to contribute to the government's efforts to rebuild the country's economy post-COVID-19. The funds raised will be channelled to initiatives such as improving connectivity in rural schools, supporting micro-entrepreneurs, and infectious disease research.
Not only will this package help the affected, but it will also provide a one-year profit for a two-year maturity period, with a quarterly profit payment. At maturity, investors can choose to donate to the principal and enjoy tax deductions.
Apart from the above, there is also the e-PENJANA package. As of September 4 2020, 10.7mn people have successfully received RM50 in their e-wallets, totalling RM535mn. These e-PENJANA recipients are reminded that the credit in this e-wallet must be used before 30 September 2020. After that date, the credit value will expire from the e-wallet user account.
Lastly, the PENJANA scheme for the creative industry aims to revive the industry including the arts and culture, which is managed by MyCreative Ventures and CENDANA, under the supervision of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia.
As of 4 September 2020. a total of 667 applications have been received, amounting to RM45mn.
Review of current issues
Based on economic statistics reported by the Department of Statistics Malaysla (DOSM), economic conditions show signs of gradual recovery.
- The unemployment rate in July decreased to 4.7% compared to 4.9% in June and 5.3% in May 2020. The reopening of economic activities and Wage Subsidy Program Initiatives, retraining and skills enhancement programs, recruitment and training assistance also contributed to the recovery of the labour market last June.
- The country's wholesale and retail trade performance also witnessed a recovery last July after recording sales of RM108.7bn (-3.5% compared with -8.4% in June 2020). The sale of motorised vehicles recorded a staggering growth of 5.8% compared to the same month last year to earn RM8.1bn. This encouraging growth is due to the sales tax exemption announced by the government under PENJANA.
- The Industrial Production Index returned a positive growth of 1.2% in July 2020 compared to the same month last year, the first increase since last February.