MUAR, Oct 30 — Budget 2021 will provide allocations to curb the spread of COVID-19 as the government steps up its battle against the pandemic, said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said the government would spell out additional measures in the Budget, which will be tabled on Nov 6, as part of efforts to bring the life of the people back to normalcy.
“As a caring government, Perikatan Nasional (PN) will implement additional measures. Before this RM305 billion (has been spent), and Budget 2021 will focus on efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“We have spent almost RM2 billion on the Health Ministry while in Sabah alone, which has been badly hit by COVID-19, about RM400 million has spent in the past few weeks involving the delivery of food aid to houses and medical supplies,” he said.
Muhyiddin said this when opening the 24th annual general meeting of Koperasi Sungai Terap dan Sungai Raya Muar Berhad at Dewan Sri Permata, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Bukit Pasir here today.
Also present were Malaysia Cooperative Societies Commission (SKM) executive chairman Datuk Nordin Salleh, Johor police chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, Bukit Kepong state assemblyman Dr Sahruddin Jamal and Bukit Pasir state assemblyman Kapten (B) Najib Lep.
Muhyiddin said the government was committed to fighting COVID-19 in the coming Budget and would continue to help the people who have been impacted by the pandemic.
“The government had to provide stimulus packages to help the people because certain groups were badly hit. If (during the Movement Control Order) previously some had asked to withdraw from account two of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), now there are people seeking to withdraw their savings in account one.
“This (withdrawal of savings) is quite difficult to implement, as the government has already provided billions (to ease the people’s burden). You can expect more to come as I will be disbursing billions more to help the people.
“The (EPF) savings are for our old age. If we allow this (withdrawal), the people will face another set of problems,” he added.
He admitted that it was tough for the government to strike a balance between protecting lives and livelihoods as it battles to contain the deadly coronavirus.
“Our problem is when we reopen the economic sector, the people start to move about freely to revive the economy. Now, it is quite difficult for the government to strike a balance between the life of the people and efforts to save the economy.
“The government needs to allow the economic sector to operate again as usual but at the same time it has to contain COVID-19 by imposing certain restrictions. This is a difficult matter,” he added.
He expressed his appreciation to the frontliners for their tireless efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country early this year.
“They have given their all and are exhausted after working day and night to protect lives. This is an extraordinary sacrifice. They are what people call the unsung heroes, so we have to thank the frontliners for sacrificing their time, property and family to help keep us safe from COVID-19,” he said.
Muhyiddin, who is Pagoh Member of Parliament, also said cooperatives, which boast millions of members and assets worth billions of ringgit throughout the country, were the third contributor to the national economy after the government and private sectors.
“This means cooperatives have very big potential for development. In developed countries, cooperatives have ventured into many major fields, and in Malaysia they have made strides too but there are still vast prospects for further progress,” he added.