We have to say, the past few weeks has been a downer and many are going to be affected in terms of economy, by the time this whole COVID-19 pandemic is over.
In fact, non-essential businesses and those working for such businesses are already feeling the pinch and it looks like things are only going to get worse.
During this hard time, the government - both at the federal and state levels - have come up with some schemes that will help those suffering financially in this time.
1) Moratorium on individual and business loans for six months
If you are unable to pay your car, housing or loans you took up for your business(es), but have been diligently paying up until now, you will be getting an automatic postponement of payment for a period of six months beginning 1 April 2020.
You don't have to apply for this as it is automatic, but if you are able and wish to continue paying your loans, you can contact your banks.
From what we understand from Bank Negara Malaysia's FAQ, you might end up paying more at the end of the day because interest is still charged on the loan amount for that six-month period.
"For conventional loans, interest will continue to be charged on the outstanding balance comprising of both principal and interest portion (i.e. compounded) during the moratorium period.
For Islamic financing, profit will continue to accrue on the outstanding principal amount. Such profit however will not be compounded in line with Shariah principles.
Banks are, however, not allowed to impose late penalty charges on the deferred amount. In other words, "the loan/financing repayment is just deferred by six months," the FAQ says.
This is why you should think carefully before opting out of paying your loans for the time being. But in dire states, this would give you some breathing room, without messing your financial scores and all.
2) KWSP Withdrawal
Withdrawals are not allowed to be made from your Account 2.
Malaysians will be able to use i-Lestari to withdraw money from their Employees Provident Fund (EPF), totalling RM40bil. Through this service, all EPF members aged 55 and below will be able to withdraw savings from their Account 2 capped at RM500 a month for the next 12 months.
Again, this is something that should only be done if you're desperate. Studies have shown that most Malaysians could only survive for about 10 years with the EPF savings, and as such this will affect your retirement plans.
If you wish to withdraw, applications can be made starting 1 April 2020.
3) Allocations for states
An allocation of RM130 million will be forwarded to the different states in the country to help them deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
The allocation can be used to assist:
Allocations will be provided to each state regardless of which political party forms the state government.
If you fall under any of the mentioned categories, you can enquire with the relevant departments in your state to see how this can benefit you.
4) Extension of repayment period for PTPTN
The Government will extend PTPTN loan repayment timeline, amounting to RM750mil, from three months to six months.
The repayment extension is already in effect and will go on until 30 September 2020. This will benefit nearly 1.5 million Malaysians who have PTPTN loans.
Financial assistance by states:
The Selangor state government has introduced the 'COVID-19 Stimulus Package', targeting different groups of people who need assistance during this time.
Among the aid, costing the government RM128 million, are a one-off payment of RM200 for frontliners in hospitals in the state and free food during work hours; a one-off RM500 payment to hawkers and PBT renters as well as rent exemptions for a month; a one-off payment of RM200 for Selangor students who are studying in Sabah and Sarawak, and more.
You can find the full list and how to apply for the aids here.
Penang's RM75 million economic stimulus package will be targeting mostly the working class people and small businesses.
Some of the aids available includes a one-off payment of RM500 to traders and licensed hawkers, licensed tour guides, the physically challenged and state Agenda Ekonomi Saksama (Just Economic Aid) recipients; one-off additional payment of RM200 to taxi drivers (they also receive a RM300 aid annual under unrelated programme) and one-off payment of RM300 to e-hailing drivers; two-month rent free stay for those renting from the state government in live in PPR; a one-off payment of RM500 for those infected with COVID-19 and a one-off payment of RM1,000 for the families of those who dies of COVID-19; and more.
You can find the full list of aid and how to apply here.
Those interested to help the state government help others can also donate to the Penang COVID-19 Fund via Maybank (557054620930).
The Sarawak government has come up with a RM1.15 billion special aid packages to deal with the economy impact of COVID 19.
Some of the measures includes discounts of up to 25 per cent on water and electricity, monthly cash pay out of RM250 for six months for the B40 group, RM300 for medical staff in the state, RM200 for immigration officers and similar incentives for other frontliners; 50% discount on rentals ot markets and stalls for up to six months; waiver of permit and licensing fees and more.
You can see the full list New Sarawak Tribune's report here.
The Sabah government has introduced 15 measures to help mitigate the effects of COVID 19, which is expected to cost the state RM670 million.
The measures include an allocation of RM50 million for any emergencies involving COVID 19 outbreak; RM10 million to provide food for frontliners; RM20 million to supply food to the rural areas of Sabah; a one-off payment of RM500 for the hardcore poor registered under i Kasih; RM80 million allocation which will be distributed to Sabahans working in the peninsula, taxi drivers, fishermen and farmers, senior citizens, orphans and people with disabilities, single mothers and mountain porters; and more.
More details on the aid and how to get it will be released on later dates.
Besides collecting money from fellow kind-hearted citizens, the state government has also announced a RM14.99 million special aid programme.
Some of the aid available are one-off cash assistance of RM150 and food items such as rice, flour, sugar and others worth RM50 who have lost their sources of income due to MCO; an allocation totalling RM252,000 for 42 assemblymen in Pahang to directly help their constituents; 50 per cent deduction in rent for low-cost housing scheme (PAKR) and affordable housing scheme (RRM) tenants in April; 50 per cent discount for stall rental and other facilities, farmers’ market, morning market, night market and car boot sale permits in April; and more.
Details on the aid was just announced today, so stay tuned to Pahang Media for the latest update on the COVID 19 aids available.
More to come
The Federal Government (hopefully state governments as well) is expected to announce more plans to deal with the economic impact of COVID 19 pandemics in coming days.
Times are hard but we can get through this together.