MCO extended to April 14

Given the escalating number of confirmed Covid-19 infection cases, the government has decided to extend the movement control order (MCO) by an additional 14 days to April 14 from March 31 originally, the prime minister announced yesterday. Meanwhile, he did not rule out the possibility of a further extension after April 14, if the situation warrants to do so. Muhyiddin, who is also finance minister, cautioned the public to be “mentally and physically prepared to stay at home for a reasonably longer period of time”. He urged the public to “stay calm and don’t panic”, assuring them that food supply will remain sufficient during the partial lockdown period. For a two-week extension on the MCO, Malaysia’s real GDP is estimated to shrink by about 2.9% for 2020 compared to 2019, and will result in some 2.4 million people losing their jobs, according to the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER). (The Edge)

JP Morgan: Covid-19 likely to peak next month in Malaysia

JP Morgan believes that Malaysia has entered the “acceleration phase” pertaining to the increase in Covid-19 infections and that this could peak by the middle of next month. “We expect the peak infection to be by the middle of April, at approximately 6,300 cases, ” it said based on its assumptions on three factors: sample population, secondary infection rate (RO) and mortality assumptions. The country has relatively better positioning to contain the virus diffusion process, it said. The strategy could result in higher reported infection numbers, but it was confident of milder development and mortality. It also noted that the movement control order that started last week should also help to slow the spread and along with border controls should be able to subdue the secondary spread of the epidemic. (The Star Online)

(Source: The Star)

Deflation in short term possible: UOB Research

Malaysia could experience deflation or declining consumer price index (CPI) for some months in the first half before returning to sub 1% inflation in the second half of the year, according to UOB Research. It said the MCO extension by two weeks to April 14 is expected to further weigh on consumer prices and economic growth. “We expect Bank Negara Malaysia to cut the Overnight Policy Rate by another 50bps in Q2, as a global recession is imminent.” Out of the 552 items covered in CPI, 343 showed an increase in February 2020 against February 2019. The increase in the overall index was driven by the index of miscellaneous goods & services (2.5%), transport (2.4%), housing, water, electricity, gas & other fuels (1.6%) and communication (1.5%). (The Sun Daily)

Singapore will not provide temporary housing support for Malaysian workers after March 31

Singapore will not extend the temporary housing support to affected employers beyond March 31 although Malaysia is extending the Movement Control Order (MCO) period to April 14. The Singapore government is providing employers in the island country with financial support of S$50 per night for up to 14 nights for every worker affected by the order. “For their own long-term sustainability and business continuity reasons, employers will need to decide on how best to house their affected workers in Singapore, and the sharing of additional costs with their workers,” the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in its website. MOM said it will now embark on the next phase, which is to work with employers to facilitate the transfer of their affected workers into more sustainable housing options in Singapore. (The Sun Daily)

Govt to address plight of taxi, ride-hailing drivers

Efforts are being made to help all the taxi and e-hailing drivers who have been affected by the Covid-19 movement control order, says Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong. The Transport Minister in a Facebook post said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will be announcing another stimulus package on Friday (March 27). He noted that the Covid-19 disease had caused the business of e-hailing drivers to go down by 80% to 90%. There are about 115,000 e-hailing drivers in the country. (The Star Online)