PETALING JAYA: The DAP has backed Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s proposal to increase the Social Welfare Department’s monthly aid for the poor to RM1,000.
It has also urged the government to extend the moratorium on loan repayments by another six months.
In a statement, the party’s secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said Covid-19 had made it necessary to borrow more money to lift Malaysia out of a recession.
Malaysia, he said, was the worst performing country in the region, experiencing a 17.1% gross domestic product (GDP) contraction in the 2nd quarter and a high unemployment rate of 4.9% or 773,200 unemployed in June.
This, he said, would likely see the number of welfare recipients swell to one million from 500,000 in 2018 when unemployment was only 3.4%.
In this scenario, increasing the aid to RM1,000 from the current RM200 to RM300 range would cost the government some RM12 billion for 1 million recipients.
“DAP supports the increase in social welfare monthly aid to RM1,000 as part of the strategic shift in the government’s financial focus from managing the government debts prudently, to borrowing more money to inject funds to save Malaysian livelihoods, jobs and businesses.”
Yesterday, Muhyiddin mooted the idea of increased aid, saying the proposal would be raised at the next Cabinet meeting.
Lim said if Muhyiddin was willing to consider increasing the expenditure for social welfare from RM1.7 billion in 2018 to an estimated RM12 billion to help one million Malaysians, the government should also consider extending the loan moratorium which ends on Sept 30.
“Why not spend another RM6.4 billion to extend the moratorium on bank loans by another six months?
“Such a moratorium extension, whether borne by the banks of the government, will help a larger number of 8 million Malaysians and companies.”
The government has announced that the moratorium would be extended by another three months for certain groups, especially those who lost their jobs this year.
Lim also repeated his call for an additional RM45 billion stimulus package to help save jobs and businesses.