Bank Negara announces 6-month moratorium on loans

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) tonight has ordered an automatic six-month moratorium on all bank loans — except for credit card balances — for those affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. BNM said the measure was designed to ease the cash flow of small and medium-sized enterprises and individuals that are likely to be most affected by Covid-19. “Banking institutions will grant an automatic moratorium on all loan/financing repayments/payments, principal and interest (except for credit card balances) by individuals and SME borrowers/customers for a period of six months from April 1, 2020,” the statement read. The moratorium is automatically applicable to loans and financing that are not in arrears exceeding 90 days as at April 1, 2020 and is denominated in Malaysian Ringgit. Banks are also encouraged to extend the moratorium to corporate players if they have proven to be a viable investment in the past. (Malay Mail)

Covid-19: Malaysia to seek help from China, UAE

Malaysia will seek help from China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for expertise and equipment to curb the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country. Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the government, through its good bilateral relations with the two nations, was seeking expertise from China, and medical equipment from the UAE. Malaysian medical experts from 26 hospitals here will hold a video conference with experts in China on Thursday, March 26, to share best practices and strategies to fight Covid-19, he said. Hishammuddin said his ministry was also working on getting ‘critical medical equipment’ from the UAE, adding that he believed the Middle Eastern country had capabilities in the area. (NST Online)

MIER warns of recession if partial lockdown extended

Assuming the movement control order (MCO) is extended for another two weeks to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, Malaysia’s real GDP may shrink about 2.9% for 2020 compared to 2019’s, resulting in some 2.4 million people losing their jobs, according to the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER). MIER further estimates that any additional two-week extension of the MCO may amplify the real GDP’s contraction by between 3% and 4%, relative to the 2020 baseline. It has revised its estimates as the pandemic advanced beyond the initial infectious phase, leading to the partial lockdown resulting in economic disruptions, affecting the country’s pattern of production, consumption and trade, as well as its population’s income and employment. It expects 67% of the 2.4 million job losses it estimated — presumably mainly non-salaried jobs — will be unskilled workers. (The Edge)

‘Additional’ stimulus package must address economic sustainability

The more “comprehensive” economic stimulus package and assistance for the people, expected to be revealed on March 30, should be strategically designed to make Malaysia’s economy sustainable. Economic analyst Dr Aimi Zulhazmi Abdul Rashid said the stimulus package must have elements to activate the domestic economy, focus on growth output domestically, produce more local supplies from all domestic sectors and create a demand for local products as well as services. He also called for the government to utilise the nation’s financial reserves and raise additional funds to stimulate the country’s economic growth. This, he said needs to be done as the revenues from petroleum had declined and in all likelihood there would be a lower tax collection as business activities dwindle due to Covid-19 and the movement control order (MCO). Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday said the additional economic stimulus measures to be announced would include medium-term effort to strengthen the nation’s financial position. (NST Online)

Transport Ministry reiterates new operation hours for public transport

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong today reiterated that the daily operational hours for public transport are from 6am to 10am and 5pm to 10pm nationwide, effective from March 25 and for the entire duration of the movement control order (MCO). Wee said that the affected land public transport modes are stage buses, free buses like GoKL and Smart Selangor, all feeder buses as well as rail services such as LRT, MRT, Monorail, ERL and KTMB. However, Wee stressed that taxi and e-hailing services may continue to operate as usual, in accordance with the predefined guidelines. “I would like to advise people not to leave the house unless it is absolutely necessary. This is to ensure the effectiveness of the MCO, which aims to break the Covid-19 infection chain,” he said. (Malay Mail)

(Source: Bernama)