: The government's RM35 billion short-term National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA) approaches the gradual reopening of the economy in a careful, coordinated and orderly manner, a think tank said.
In a statement today, EMIR Research said the plan, which was announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin last week, also acknowledged the sense of urgency to push through the necessary changes as Malaysia navigates its way towards a post-COVID-19 world.
It said that PENJANA is timely, introducing measures to arrest the increase in unemployment and business closures, easing the cashflow for businesses and driving consumption as well as digitalisation.
"PENJANA epitomises the next concrete step the Muhyiddin administration is taking as part of the overall strategy in the recovery phase of the economy," the think tank said.
EMIR Research said PENJANA package addresses the rising concern of unemployment with the three-month extension and coverage expansion of the Wage Subsidy Programme (WSP).
"The WSP could also be utilised to cover unpaid leaves in tourism businesses which have been badly affected by the crisis.
"Looking forward, perhaps the WSP could be extended further as part of the medium-term recovery plan, to accompany the gradual reopening of the economy," said the think tank.
It added that the short-term economic recovery plan also reflected government's proactive measures at pre-empting unemployment levels with the upgrading of the National Employment Services Job Portal, hiring and training incentives for the unemployed and youths, as well as programmes for reskilling and upskilling of workers.
The government also gave serious attention towards supporting the growth of the gig economy, which accounts for 25.3 per cent of total employment in Malaysia, by providing matching grant allocation and an allocation to Malaysia Digital Economy Corp for the Global Online Workforce programme, it said.
Additionally, EMIR Research said the PENJANA Microfinancing scheme will spur the creation of more micro-enterprises in the country, which is crucial towards the promotion of entrepreneurship, thus boosting employment in the country.
"The Bumiputera Relief Financing is also consistent with the reality that the small and medium enterprises are the leading employers in the country," it said.
It added that the move to provide e-wallet credits worth RM50 and the launch of the "Shop Malaysia Online" campaign is expected to spur online consumption while providing convenience for the consumers.
"Perhaps the government's direct cash assistance, the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional could be extended beyond June to continue supporting the middle- to low-income households in driving consumption," said the think tank.