Interstate travel still a no-go, Ramadan bazaars allowed with SOPs

No interstate travel is allowed despite more areas enjoying Covid-19 green zone status, with Kedah, Perak and Negri Sembilan set to join six states under RMCO. With the exception of a travel bubble that has been allowed between RMCO areas, cross-border movement between RMCO states and CMCO states, between MCO areas, and inter-district travel in Sabah and Sarawak is still not allowed yet. Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor, Penang, Kelantan and Sarawak remain under CMCO as the number of new cases remains high and most of the districts in these states are categorised as either red or amber. “The latest status including the change from conditional to recovery MCO will take effect from March 19-31,” he said. Ismail Sabri also said the MCO technical committee has agreed to allow activities associated with the month of Ramadan such as terawih prayers and bazaars to operate, subject to a strict SOP. The SOP includes Ramadan and Aidilfitri bazaars being held in open spaces with different entry and exit lanes, registration via the MySejahtera app, and operational hours from 3pm to 10pm for Ramadan bazaars and 10am to midnight for Aidilfitri bazaars. (The Star Online)

Types of MCO - 17 March 2021

Khairy: Malaysia deemed ‘upper middle income’ nation, not qualified for free Covid-19 vaccines or discounts

Malaysia bought all its Covid-19 vaccines at full price, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said. He clarified that Malaysia was not given the vaccines free as claimed because it is not a low-income country. “A lot of countries get free vaccines from China, India and Russia because they are considered a lower income country. Even in Covax, we did not get any assistance because we were categorised as an upper middle income country,” he said. Covax is the Covid-19 vaccine pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to Covid-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. Khairy also said that Malaysia did not get any discount on the Covid-19 vaccines. (Malay Mail)

Malaysia considers new taxes to boost coffers

Malaysia is considering imposing new taxes to boost its revenue. Finance Ministry deputy secretary-general (policy) Zakiah Jaafar said the government would, however, wait for the Covid-ravaged economy to fully stabilise before implementing such measure. “We are currently embarking on a study to review our tax packages in view to further consolidate and make them more targeted and strategic in nature,” she said. Over the medium-term revenue strategy, Zakiah said the government was seeking to improve its tax framework, reduce leakages and broaden revenue base while reducing its dependency on commodities. She said the reinstatement of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) could be part of the government’s bigger exercise to widen its revenue base. Nevertheless, she said the 2021 Budget attempted some revenue expansion despite the ongoing crisis. (NST Online)

Malaysia expected to cross high-income threshold by 2025 — World Bank

Malaysia is expected to cross the high-income country threshold by 2025 under a baseline scenario, on the basis that the economy continues to expand healthily in the next few years, said the World Bank. Under a high case scenario, this could be achieved earlier in 2024, whereas under a low case scenario the achievement could be later in 2028. According to World Bank, the baseline projections are premised on assumptions that Malaysia’s economy will continue to expand at around its potential growth rate, with the ringgit-US dollar exchange rate remaining unchanged at around RM4 per US dollar. Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance is targeting for the economy to grow between 6.5% and 7.5% in 2021. “Malaysia’s per capita income has increased nearly four-fold since joining the upper middle-income country group in 1992. Since then, progress has slowed despite continued growth in ringgit-denominated incomes, largely due to the weakness of the ringgit relative to the US dollar in recent years.” (The Edge)

Qing Ming rituals allowed with strict SOPs

The SOPs for the Qing Ming festival at cemeteries and columbariums on April 4 has been approved. The National Unity Ministry said that the SOPs will apply 14 days before the actual festival date which is from March 20 to April 4 and 14 days after, from April 5 to 18, throughout the duration of MCO, CMCO, and RMCO. For the SOPs at cemeteries, the number of close relatives should not be more than six people at any one time and prayers should be conducted from 5 am to 6 pm for a duration of 90 minutes. For columbariums, only 10 people are allowed at any one time in MCO states, 50% capacity with physical distancing for conditional MCO areas, and for reovery MCO areas, the number of visitors will be according to the capacity of the columbarium. Prayer times in MCO, CMCO and RMCO areas should be between 5 am and 6 pm, and the duration is limited to 60 minutes, with sanitisation work lasting 30 minutes in between. Interstate travel is still not allowed. (The Star Online)

The Petaling Jaya Chinese Cemetery at Section 51A PJ
The Petaling Jaya Chinese Cemetery at Section 51A PJ is closed as per the movement control order. -Art Chen/The Star.