AG report: a Covid-19 fund set up by the government to finance the recovery plan and economic recovery

PETALING JAYA: The government established the Covid-19 Fund, which came into effect on October 27, 2020, under subsection 4(1) of the Temporary Measures Act.

According to the Auditor General’s report, the fund was set up to certify monies received under Section 3(1) of the Loans (Local) Act 1959 and all other funds received under Section 3(1) of the Government Funding Act 1983 for the allocation of expenditure to the stimulus package, as well as the economic stimulus package.

The initial amount set for the Covid-19 Fund was RM45 billion, but was increased to RM110 billion on 17 November 2021 under applicable laws.

The report said the increase was to fund four monetary relief and stimulus packages for 2021, as announced by the government, for a total of RM225 billion.

In 2021, the largest relief and economic stimulus programs were the People’s Protection Program and the Economic Recovery Program, amounting to RM150 billion.

The largest fund expenditures were for cash distributions, grants and grants to target groups under various programs covering financial aid, wage subsidies, job retention, employment, training assistance and the Geran Prihatin PKS initiative, all of which amounted to RM28.306bil. , covering 75.1% of the allocated funds in 2021 of RM39bil.

The report also said it saw an increase in spending in 2021 compared to 2020 in social support grants for vulnerable groups, allowance for Covid-19 related expenses and rebates on electricity bills.

In 2021, a total of RM2.811 billion, an increase of RM2.714 billion, from RM96.93 million in 2020, was spent on vulnerable groups to implement 20 sub-programmes compared to only four sub-programmes in 2020.

The largest amount included funds channeled into the Cooking Oil Price Stabilization Assistance Program, as well as assistance to those who had lost their jobs.

Under the Cooking Oil Scheme, RM1,186bil was spent on the Bottled Cooking Oil Grant, which was a separate allocation from the RM0,976bil grant allocated to the cost of cooking oil in polyethylene bags of 1 kg each.

The report says that the cooking oil subsidy was aimed at countering the rising cost of living that the population is facing due to the rising prices of palm oil commodities in the market.

B40 families also received support for free internet access to online education.

This program involved an internet data plan subsidy costing RM180 each, as well as a one-time smart device subsidy between RM180 and RM300 for beneficiaries of the Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat, who meet the requirements.

A total of 12 telecom companies participated in the program with an expenditure of RM600mil.

Additionally, a sum of RM434mil was also funneled with RM500 each to be distributed to almost 870,000 people who lost their jobs in 2021.

The amount spent on Covid-19 related expenses amounted to RM2.686 billion in 2021, an increase of RM1.895 billion from 2020 which stood at RM791.15 million.

For electricity bill rebates in 2021, the amount was RM489.50 million, an increase of 175.7% or RM311.97 million from 177.53 million RM in 2020.

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