Guan Eng Questions if PN Exaggerating Success of Its Stimulus Package

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Subang MP Wong Chen said that despite the government claiming the stimulus package is worth RM295 billion, he estimated the direct injection until June is no more than RM15 billion.

Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng has questioned if the Perikatan Nasional government has been exaggerating the effectiveness of its Prihatin Rakyat economic stimulus package designed to cushion the economic downturn brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This was after the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) acknowledged mistakes in Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s speech yesterday to give an update on the government’s efforts and revised down the number of people who benefited from the stimulus plan after being called out.

“Following the admission of the mistake and incorrect information about the Prihatin allocation provided by the prime minister yesterday, the claim that the PN government had saved 2.75 million jobs is questionable.

“How can 2.75 million jobs be saved when the employment rate has climbed to 5.3 percent or more than 830,000 people?” Lim said in a statement.

Yesterday, Muhyiddin said 1.4 million e-hailing drivers had received an RM500 handout, 477,000 taxi and bus drivers received an RM600 handout while 834,000 businesses and 6.7 million individuals benefited from the wage subsidy scheme.

The PMO today revised this to 68,336 e-hailing drivers, 37,127 taxi and bus drivers, 313,000 employers and 2.5 million workers.

When Muhyiddin first announced the stimulus package on March 27, he had said the e-hailing aid would benefit 120,000 drivers.

He had also announced that the wage subsidy programme would benefit 3.3 million workers.

Yesterday, Subang MP Wong Chen, during his debate in the Dewan Rakyat, also called on the government to furnish specific numbers on how the stimulus package had been spent.

“Not fantasy numbers but the real data. How much money had been spent by the government since the start of the movement control order (MCO)?

“What is the breakdown of the utilisation? How much had been used for the wage subsidy until the end of June? How much was spent for the Health Ministry and the frontliners to curb Covid-19?” he asked.

Wong added that despite the government claiming the stimulus package is worth RM295 billion, he estimated the direct injection until June is no more than RM15 billion.

“I ask that the Finance Ministry provide the actual spending in terms of a direct cash injection,” he had said.

Lim, in his statement today, urged the government to introduce further measures to help people cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

He proposed the government double the RM77 electricity bill relief which was provided between April and June and also extend the six-month loan repayment moratorium which is set to expire at the end of September.

He also noted that the government is mulling to mandate the use of face mask in public places and suggested that the government reduce the maximum price of three-ply masks back to 80 sen.

The government had in March increased the maximum price of a three-ply mask from 80 sen to RM2 amid a shortage due to producers refusing to sell to the domestic market as they claimed the set price was too low and they risked incurring losses. – Malaysiakini