Perikatan National (PN) government has been urged to bring back an initiative that was unveiled in Budget 2020 by the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to create up to 350,000 jobs for Malaysians
The initiative, called [email protected] or #MalaysiaKerja, was a RM6.5 billion programme that was unveiled in Budget 2020 to create up to 350,000 jobs for Malaysians over a five-year period.
The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) was supposed to spearhead the [email protected] initiative that was expected to take-off in the middle of 2020.
However, the initiative was terminated before it could become operational after the collapse of the PH government in February, following which a new government took over Putrajaya.
The PN government then terminated the RM6.5 billion stimulus package, that would have provided both wage incentives for workers and hiring incentives for employers, citing COVID-19 crisis.
Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz, who is the Finance Minister in the PN administration, said the initiative could not be implemented properly since individuals and businesses were badly affected by COVID-19.
The Finance Minister stated that due to this, the allocations from the said initiative were transferred to the hiring subsidy programme under the Prihatin and Penjana package, according to a report in Malay Mail.
However, an opposition Member of Parliament Tony Pua argues that given the rising national unemployment rate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative is "even more relevant and important".
The Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM) said the unemployment rate for August 2020 is at 4.7%, involving 741,600 Malaysians
Tony Pua said that the call to bring back the initiative is one of the six key demands that the PH coalition has made to the Ministry of Finance
According to him, the six key demands are part of a 'unity budget' for 2021.
"Given the plight the Malaysian and global economy is in today, Budget 2021 must go above and beyond what was announced for 2020, including the extension of wage subsidies for companies which have been affected by the crisis," Pua wrote in a column that was published on Malaysiakini earlier today, 4 November.
The initiative was divided into three programmes
[email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]
Under [email protected], graduates who were unemployed for less than 12 months would have been hired and given a wage incentive of RM500/month, in conjunction with a hiring incentive of up to RM300/month for each new hire for two years.
Meanwhile, [email protected] was aimed at encouraging more women workers above the age of 30, who have stopped working for less than one year, to return to the workforce by giving them a wage incentive of RM500/month while the employers would receive a hiring incentive of up to RM300/month for two years.
Similarly, [email protected] was targeted at Malaysians who would be hired to replace foreign workers and given a wage incentive of up to RM500/month and hiring incentive for employers of up to RM250/month for two years.
Pua described the initiative as "groundbreaking"
According to him, it was launched to create more job opportunities for Malaysians and to "play a major role in boosting economic productivity and growth for the country".
"The failure to adopt [email protected] and other additional measures to protect and boost employment will render Budget 2021 a disastrous failure for the economic well-being of ordinary Malaysians," he wrote.
Budget 2021 is to be tabled in Parliament on Friday, 6 November
Zafrul Tengku has stated that Budget 2021 is not the usual scheme as announced in previous years and will have to strike a balance between supporting the people's livelihoods and Malaysia's economic growth.
"It is not the normal (usual) budget. Now I know how difficult it is to prepare the country's budget," he was quoted as saying in a report by The Edge Malaysia earlier today, 4 November.
Former prime minister Najib Razak has been appointed as Barisan Nasional backbenchers' chairman ahead of the tabling of Budget 2021: