Blanket MCO may not be needed in future

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announcing Strategic Programme to Empower People and the Economy (Pemerkasa) aired live on all television channels and social media platforms today. Photo: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today said that the enforcement of a blanket movement control order (MCO) may not be needed in the future, thanks to the implementation of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

The Prime Minister said that the government’s strategy to curb the spread of Covid-19 will involve a more targeted approach based on science and data to reduce the negative impact on the country’s economic activities.

“Movement control will only be enforced according to locality and focused only on clusters involved,” he said in his special announcement on the Strategic Programme to Empower People and the Economy (Pemerkasa) worth RM20 billion broadcasted on television today.

The targeted approach is among 20 strategic initiatives under Pemerkasa and is grouped under the programme’s first focus, to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Muhyiddin also touched on the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme that officially began on Feb 24, aimed to provide free immunisation to around 80 per cent of residents in Malaysia, both locals and foreigners.

He said that under the Pemerkasa, the government has also agreed to increase the allocation to RM5 billion from RM3 billion previously to achieve herd immunity by December this year, faster than the initial target of the first quarter of next year.

“To achieve this target, 15,000 workers will be stationed at almost 950 vaccination centres across the country.

“Taking into consideration the increase of tasks, the government has agreed to extend the Covid-19 Special Assistance of RM200 a month to civil servants involved in the immunisation programme at vaccination centres,” he said, adding that over 300,000 people have received the first vaccine shot so far.

Meanwhile, in line with the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021, the prime minister said that stricter standard operating procedures (SOPs) and transparent law enforcement will continue to be implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19, as well as protecting workers.

Under the new ‘Safe@Work’ initiative, which will be open for registration on April 1, the government agreed to give additional tax deduction on the rental of premises and worker hostels to participating companies.

The Prime Minister explained that the voluntary programme under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) required the participating companies to provide conducive workplaces and accommodation for their workers.

“Expenses that qualify for the additional tax deduction is limited to RM50,000 for each company registered with Miti and passed the Safe@Work compliance audit.

“Companies registered with Miti for this programme will be allowed to operate under the conditions where close contact workers are isolated from the local community and other workers by placing them in a ‘Safe work bubble’ until all workers are confirmed safe,” he said.

In addition, Muhyiddin said employers who arrange Covid-19 screening tests for their workers will also qualify for an additional tax deduction for the costs incurred till Dec 31.

Muhyiddin also said that under Pemerkasa, the government agreed to extend the Wage Subsidy Programme 3.0 for three more months with a more targeted approach that is expected to benefit 400,000 workers and 37,000 employers with an allocation of RM700 million.

He said the government realised there were still sectors affected and the extension would include tourism, wholesale and retail sectors, as well as other businesses that were closed during the MCO, such as gymnasiums and spas.

“As of March 5, the government has channelled over RM14.4 billion to finance the wage subsidy programme that has helped 2.7 million workers and over 330,000 employers,” he said.

In addition, the Prime Minister said the government would continue to improve the Penajana Kerjaya 2.0 programme under the Social Security Organisation (Socso) by expanding the scope of hiring incentive to include temporary and gig economy jobs.

He said this included setting aside an allocation of RM300 million, which will benefit 60,000 workers, with each worker receiving RM600 a month for a maximum of three months.

For employers offering short-term jobs or gig service providers registered with Socso, they will receive RM200 for every worker.

He said for the internship programme under Penjana Kerjaya, the government has also agreed to extend the duration of the programme to six months from only three months previously, with every new intern receiving an incentive of RM800 a month.

To address the unemployment issue, Muhyiddin said, under the National Employment Council that was established last year, 66,000 job opportunities from a targeted 500,000 throughout this year had been successfully created since last February. – Bernama