RM3,000 ‘one-off’ Pemerkasa grant for over 5,000 tourism agencies

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has agreed to channel a ‘one-off’ special aid grant of RM3,000 to more than 5,000 tourism agencies registered with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) under the Strategic Programme to Empower the People and the Economy (Pemerkasa).

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, when announcing the programme today, said the government had also agreed to provide a one-off cash assistance of RM600 to homestay operators registered with Motac.

“It is to reduce the burden and support the recovery of the tourism sector, which has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said in his special address which was broadcast live on television.

Muhyiddin said the government had also agreed to extend a special 10 per cent discount on electricity bills by another three months until June 30, 2021, to improve the cash flow and reduce the business costs of hotel operators, theme parks, convention centres, shopping malls, local airline offices, and tourism and adventure agencies.

He said with the extension of the discount, the government is expected to bear costs of about RM135 million.

Meanwhile, Muhyiddin said the government was prepared to allow interstate movement in stages and even to create a special green lane for cross-border travel involving air transport.

“Please give some time and space to the government to examine all risks before a decision is made,” he said.

Elaborating on the initiative to revive the tourism and retail sectors, Muhyiddin said the government had agreed to provide a waiver on entertainment tax for admission tickets to entertainment venues such as theme parks, stage performances, sports events and competitions as well as film screenings in cinemas in all Federal Territories.

He added that the government would extend the tourism tax and service tax exemptions on accommodations provided by hotel operators until Dec 31, 2021, apart from extending tax incentives for tour operators until the year of assessment 2022.

Under the same initiative, he said the government also allowed the deferral of monthly income tax instalments from April 1 to Dec 31 this year involving companies involved in tourism and other selected industries such as cinemas and spas.

According to Muhyiddin, the initiative will also expand the scope of individual income tax relief up to RM1,000, to cover the purchase of travel packages through travel agents registered with Motac.

“The government will also provide exemptions on Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) levies for affected tourism and retail sector companies until June 2021.

The RM20 billion Pemerkasa programme will focus on 20 strategic initiatives to boost economic growth, support business and continue targeted assistance for individuals and companies that are still affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. – Bernama