PM announces RM40bil Pemerkasa Plus aid package for MCO 3.0

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced tonight an additional RM40 billion worth of aid to help stem the fallout of a strict lockdown that will begin tomorrow. Of that amount, RM5 billion will be in direct fiscal injection. The relief package, dubbed Pemerkasa Plus, will beef up the healthcare system, continue previous welfare programmes and help businesses weather the lockdown, as he vowed to “balance lives and livelihood”. Among other spending measures he unveiled was an additional RM1 billion to expand Malaysia’s healthcare capacity, extend wage subsidies for another month and lengthen the loan moratorium given since last year when the country was put under the first movement control order. Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz had already announced an extra allocation of RM200 million last week to help buy more hospital beds, making the total Covid-19 allocation for the Health Ministry this year RM1 billion. Muhyiddin said Pemerkasa Plus’ second objective will be the prioritisation of public welfare, which the government aims to provide by continuing several initiatives rolled out from the first stimulus package. This includes extending the loan moratorium and the wage subsidies programme. (Malay Mail)

QR codes on Miti letters for ‘total lockdown’ to prevent forgery

Letters authorising companies to operate during the “total lockdown” that are issued by the International Trade and Industry Ministry will come with a QR code to prevent falsification, said a senior police official. Bukit Aman Internal Security and Public Order Department SAC (Operations) SAC MV Srikumar M. Nair was quoted saying police manning roadblocks will be able to use the code to corroborate the letter and verify its legitimacy on the spot. “When the code is scanned, it will request a particular number code which only the police have. When you enter the code, it will tell you whether the letter is indeed for the bearer,” he said. The government reverted to letting Miti handle the authorisation letter yesterday, ahead of the two-week “total lockdown” today, after previously saying that the individual ministries would be responsible for authorising the sectors under their purview. (Malay Mail)

HOC stamp duty exemption scheme extended till end-2021

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) has agreed to extend the residential home stamp duty exemption scheme under the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) for six months to Dec 31, 2021. According to a letter sighted by The Edge, the stamp duty exemption on Instrument of Transfer is applicable for all residential home purchases from the value of RM300,000 to RM2.5 million, with the first RM1 million to enjoy 100% waiver, while only the balance will be charged 3%. Meanwhile, 100% stamp duty exemption on loan agreement will be given to residential home purchases valued from RM300,000 to RM2.5 million. The schemes only apply for Malaysians and residential homes with at least 10% discount that are verified by REHDA, SHEDA and SHAREDA. REHDA president Datuk Soam Heng Choon confirmed the news and said the news is waiting to be gazetted. (The Edge)

All ministers, deputies to contribute three months’ worth of wages to help fight Covid-19

All federal Cabinet members and deputy ministers will forfeit their salaries for three months starting June as part of the government effort to battle the pandemic, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced yesterday. Instead, he said their salaries will be channelled into the RM40 billion Pemerkasa Plus aid initiative targeted at mitigating the effects of the impending “total lockdown” that starts today. “I would like to convey the support of all ministers and deputy ministers by not paying their salaries for three months starting June 2021,” he said. “The salaries that will not be paid will go into the Disaster Trust Fund Account as a means to finance matters related to Covid-19,” he added. Daily cases have reached unprecedented levels after the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays, at one point close to 10,000 before subsiding back to below 7,000 yesterday. The first MCO lasted nearly the entire second quarter of 2020, and was estimated to have bled RM250 billion a day. (Malay Mail)

Axiata, RHB Bank to jointly bid for digital bank licence — sources

Malaysian telecoms firm Axiata Group Bhd has teamed up with RHB Bank Bhd to apply for a digital bank licence, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday. Malaysia’s central bank has called for digital bank applications by June 30 and said it may issue up to five licences for online-only banks. Across Asia, regulators are opening up banking for digital players, encouraged by a boom in mobile connectivity and the prospect of tech firms offering low-cost financial services. The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the need for digital transactions. Axiata declined to comment on the digital bank application with RHB but said in an email it would hold a news conference with the bank on Wednesday “on significant partnerships that will expand collaborations between both parties.” (The Edge)