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Politics

Malaysia to roll out additional $3.7bn stimulus measures: PM

Spending aimed at supporting country's coronavirus-hit economy

Largely empty streets are seen during a coronavirus lockdown in Kuala Lumpur on Jan. 13. Malaysia's prime minister on Monday announced $3.71 billion worth of additional stimulus measures to support the pandemic-hit economy and fight COVID-19.

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -- Malaysia will introduce 15 billion ringgit ($3.71 billion) worth of additional stimulus measures to support its pandemic-hit economy and fight COVID-19, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday.

Last week, Malaysia declared a state of emergency and imposed a nationwide travel ban and lockdowns in the capital and five states to help curb the spread of the outbreak, which has been worsening in recent days in the Southeast Asian country.

Muhyiddin said strict curbs under the movement control order (MCO), which took effect on Wednesday, should not have as much of an impact on the economy compared to the last lockdown in March since more economic activities are allowed to continue.

"As such, the impact of the current MCO to the economy is expected to be manageable," Muhyiddin told a televised address.

Public mobility and businesses ground to a near halt over six weeks between March and April after the government imposed strict coronavirus curbs, causing Malaysia's economy to contract for the first time in more than a decade in the second quarter.

The government's new aid measures include an additional 1 billion ringgit to fund procurement of more supplies for frontline healthcare workers, including reagents and screening kits and personal protective equipment.

Banks will also extend a moratorium on loans and restructure repayment for individuals and businesses, while the government will expedite disbursement of cash aid to low income families and individuals and broaden the scope of a wage subsidy plan for employers.

The government rolled out 305 billion ringgit of stimulus measures last year, ranging from cash handouts to wage subsidies and loan moratoriums to help the public and businesses weather the pandemic.

In November, the government unveiled a record 322.5 billion ringgit ($79.75 billion) budget for 2021 to spur economic activity and support growth.

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