Malaysia hands out RM150bn in aid, allocates RM100m to help SMEs digitalise

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has unveiled a RM150 billion stimulus package known as Pakej Perlindungan Rakyat dan Pemulihan Ekonomi (Pemulih), with a direct fiscal injection of RM10 billion. Under the stimulus package, an additional RM100 million will be offered under the newly launched Small Entrepreneur Digital Empowerment Programme for SMEs and RM200 million for micro SMEs. This comes as the government seeks to support the digitalisation agenda and encourage cashless transactions nationwide. Micro SMEs will also receive additional assistance of RM500 in September and RM500 in November.

According to Muhyiddin, the funds will be channelled towards the Shop Malaysia Online and Go-eCommerce Onboarding campaigns targeted at more than 300,000 micro SMEs. They include bazaar traders, farmers markets, night markets and handicraft entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, the government is also allocating an additional RM100 million under the SME Digitalisation Grant to enable SME entrepreneurs to obtain matching grants of up to RM5,000 for the purchase or subscription of digital systems.

The government will also enter into strategic collaborations between digital platform providers, telecommunication companies and community Internet Centres to help rural entrepreneurs engage in the digital economy. At the same time, it is also empowering agri-entrepreneurs, especially those in the rural areas, to use the latest technology under the Agricultural Sector Digitisation and Transformation Programme.

The Cooperative Economic Recovery Intervention Financing Programme also enables entrepreneurs to carry out economic activities in groups through cooperatives, including marketing products through online platforms as well as encouraging the purchase of goods in cooperative stores.

Muhyiddin has also allocated RM100 million in financial assistance for the creative arts sector. The funds include incentives for the production of work and digital content, career opportunities, skills upgrading programmes, as well as the procurement of products for the purpose of production on TV, radio and song creation.

To aid the tourism industry, which Muhyiddin said was one of the most affected sectors during the pandemic, the government will offer a one-off assistance of RM3,000 to more than 5,300 registered travel agencies when the third phase of the National Recovery Plan (VAT) kicks in. It will also defer the payment of monthly income tax installments to companies and exempt tourism tax and service tax to hotel operators until the end of the year. As Malaysia moves into the fourth phase of the VAT, Muhyiddin said the government will consider appropriate allocations to rehabilitiate and revitalise tourism activities.

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