Malaysia unveils $3.7 billion package as Covid-19 pandemic cases surge

Malaysia Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin
Malaysia unveiled a 15-billion ringgit ($3.7 billion) package to help the economy weather the impact from a fresh surge in coronavirus cases.


The plan, which includes cash support to the poor, tax breaks and wage subsidies, will help bolster the existing initiatives aimed at helping people blunt the economic impact of the pandemic, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised address Monday.


The measures come a week after Malaysia declared a state of emergency, allowing the government to enact immediate laws to contain the pandemic and support the economy. The move had raised concerns about the government’s ability to stoke activity amid limited fiscal space and a relatively high debt load.


The package amounts to 1.1 per cent of GDP and the “relatively conservative amount is essentially a sign that fiscal space to do large-scale stimulus is limited,” said Wellian Wiranto, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. “Any impact on the overall budget deficit figure is likely to be contained.”


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Health authorities in Norway say there’s no evidence of a direct link between the recent string of deaths among elderly people inoculated against Covid-19, and the vaccine they received. The Norwegian Medicines Agency is seeking to address fears that taking the vaccine might be too risky, after 33 people in the country aged 75 and over died following immunisation, according to the agency’s latest figures. All were already seriously ill, it said.


World on brink of catastrophic moral failure, says WHO


The world is on the "brink of a catastrophic moral failure" if rich countries hog vaccine doses while the poorest suffer, the head of the WHO said. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus denounced the "me-first" attitude of wealthy nations.

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