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The COVID-19 Hardship Survey: An Evaluation of the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package

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Abstract and Figures

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global crisis, and, while Malaysia has controlled the infection more than most countries with early exposure to the virus, the Movement Control Order (MCO) has required major economic sacrifices. This, in addition to a COVID-19-caused global economic slowdown, threatens a budget crisis for Malaysian households. Malaysian households often carry a great deal of debt and have little savings; without a source of income, many households could quickly lose access to necessities like food or housing. In response, the Malaysian government has created a series of stimulus packages. This report uses a survey of Malaysian household income and expenditures conducted from the 20th to the 27th of March to analyze the effect of these stimulus packages on the cash-flow and solvency of Malaysian households. We find that they are likely to address most of the cash-flow issues brought on by the COVID-19 crisis, at least in the short term. While a substantial minority of M40 respondents and a nearly half of B40 respondents reported negative cash-flow due to the crisis, the stimulus policies are able to decrease negative cash-flow rates among our respondents to levels at or below those that persisted before the COVID-19 crisis for the month of April, assuming income and expenditures from March persist. Among the minority who still have negative cash-flow, most have enough savings to survive for more than three months. However, a small minority of respondents in our survey are still likely to run out of money in the next few months, especially among the B40. If policymakers wish to further protect households from budget crises after the one-time transfers of April, our analysis shows that transfers to lower-income households—families making RM 4,000 or less and single individuals making RM 2,000 or less—are dramatically more effective than transfers to higher income households. There are several caveats to our conclusions: our sample is not representative, and our cash-flow estimates are only approximate, so our results should only be viewed as suggestive. Additionally, our responses come from the beginning of the MCO, so they likely undercount the number of Malaysians who have lost their jobs or have decreased income. Finally, this analysis assumes benefits can be easily and quickly disbursed to distressed households. Elderly individuals or those in rural areas may not have the internet access or expertise to secure their benefits, and delays in disbursement could be catastrophic for households with no savings.
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The COVID-19 Hardship Survey:
An Evaluation of the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package
1
Dr. Sam Flanders, Dr. Melati Nungsari, Chuah Hui Yin
2
Monday, April 20th 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global crisis, and, while Malaysia has controlled the
infection more than most countries with early exposure to the virus, the Movement Control
Order (MCO) has required major economic sacrifices. This, in addition to a COVID-19-caused
global economic slowdown, threatens a budget crisis for Malaysian households. Malaysian
households often carry a great deal of debt and have little savings; without a source of
income, many households could quickly lose access to necessities like food or housing. In
response, the Malaysian government has created a series of stimulus packages.
This report uses a survey of Malaysian household income and expenditures conducted from
the 20th to the 27th of March to analyze the effect of these stimulus packages on the cash-
flow and solvency of Malaysian households. We find that they are likely to address most of
the cash-flow issues brought on by the COVID-19 crisis, at least in the short term. While a
substantial minority of M40 respondents and a nearly half of B40 respondents reported
negative cash-flow due to the crisis, the stimulus policies are able to decrease negative
cash-flow rates among our respondents to levels at or below those that persisted before the
COVID-19 crisis for the month of April, assuming income and expenditures from March
persist. Among the minority who still have negative cash-flow, most have enough savings to
survive for more than three months.
However, a small minority of respondents in our survey are still likely to run out of money in
the next few months, especially among the B40. If policymakers wish to further protect
1
To cite this report, please use the following for Chicago Style: Sam Flanders, Melati Nungsari, and Chuah Hui
Yin. “The COVID-19 Hardship Survey: An Evaluation of the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package.” Asia
School of Business Discussion Paper Series (2020).
2
We would like to thank our colleagues at Asia School of Business for their support, as well as Heather Phoon,
Candee Chee, Denise Wong, and Ong Zi Ying for their help in creating and disseminating the survey. Sam
Flanders and Melati Nungsari are both Assistant Professors of Economics at Asia School of Business and
Research Affiliates at MIT Sloan School of Management. Chuah Hui Yin is a Senior Research Associate at Asia
School of Business. Please address all questions to Prof. Melati at melati.nungsari@asb.edu.my. All mistakes
are our own.
households from budget crises after the one-time transfers of April, our analysis shows that
transfers to lower-income householdsfamilies making RM 4,000 or less and single
individuals making RM 2,000 or lessare dramatically more effective than transfers to
higher income households.
There are several caveats to our conclusions: our sample is not representative, and our
cash-flow estimates are only approximate, so our results should only be viewed as
suggestive. Additionally, our responses come from the beginning of the MCO, so they likely
undercount the number of Malaysians who have lost their jobs or have decreased income.
Finally, this analysis assumes benefits can be easily and quickly disbursed to distressed
households. Elderly individuals or those in rural areas may not have the internet access or
expertise to secure their benefits, and delays in disbursement could be catastrophic for
households with no savings.
1. Introduction
The COVID-19 crisis escalated from a small-scale outbreak in Wuhan, China in December
2019 to a global public health crisis within less than 3 months. At the time of writing, it has
infected more than 2 million people and killed more than 150,000 people, with no sign of
stopping. Aside from the main consequence of the loss of lives, it’s become apparent that
the secondary blow of the pandemic will be on the economies of the world. Bank Negara
Malaysia, the Central Bank of Malaysia, released its 2019 Economic and Monetary Review
on April 3rd 2020, projecting that the country’s GDP growth in 2020 would be between -2.0%
and +0.5%
3
, significantly lower than the same number in 2019 (4.3%)
4
, and that the
unemployment rate would increase to 4%, significantly higher than the unemployment rate
during the Great Recession of 2008-2009 (3.7%) and the Asian Financial Crisis of 1998
(3.2%)
5
.
Malaysia is of course not alone in its economic troubles in these times countries all around
the world have reported troubling economic statistics. The United States, for example, saw
its jobless claims soar to an unprecedented number of more than 22 million.
6
A significant
reason for these economic woes is the fact that many countries have been forced to enact
stringent “lockdowns” or mandatory social distancing in order to combat the spread of the
virus, which is particularly lethal for the elderly, the immunosuppressed, and those with
existing health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. As the pandemic
worsened in Malaysia, the government announced a Movement Control Order (MCO) on
March 18th till March 31st in order to break the chain of COVID-19 infections (MCO 1.0). The
MCO was then extended for another two weeks, till April 14th (MCO 2.0), and extended
again until April 28th as announcement on April 10th (MCO 3.0). As expected, the MCOs,
although completely necessary to combat the ongoing public health crisis, generated
multiple ripple effects, causing major economic disruptions as most economic activities
were forced to cut back significantly, if not stop completely.
All around the world, stimulus packages have been released to combat the effects of the
COVID-19 pandemic. In Malaysia, the first economic stimulus package, worth RM20 billion,
was announced on February 27th by then interim Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mathathir
Mohamad. This stimulus package will be referred to in this report as Stimulus Package 1
(SP1). Besides measures undertaken to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, the first stimulus
package mainly aimed at easing the cash flow of businesses, and stimulating tourism and
the hospitality sector with initiatives such as a service tax exemption, deferment of income
tax payments, microcredit loans and moratorium on loan repayments. There were also
3
Bank Negara Malaysia Economic and Monetary Review 2019: https://www.bnm.gov.my/ar2019/
4
https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/bnm-annual-report-2019-malaysias-2020-gdp-growth-projected-
between-2-and-05
5
https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/malaysia-unemployment-rate-expected-hit-4-year-due-covid19
6
https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-unemployment-claims-likely-continued-at-record-levels-11587029401
grants allocated for human resource development, promoting e-commerce, and rural
development. SP1 also focused on promoting high value-added investments in both public
and private sectors. Personal income tax relief and digital vouchers for domestic tourism
were offered to all Malaysians in order to stimulate the domestic tourism, a sector that was
heavily hit by the pandemic at the early stage. The employee contribution rate to
employment provident fund (EPF) was also reduced from 11% to 7%, which was meant to
boost private consumption. The package also included direct cash transfers to affected
populations such as taxi drivers and registered beneficiaries of Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH).
7
Civil servants working in frontline industries such healthcare and law enforcement were also
given a special allowance for their services. A summary of individual benefits under this
stimulus package can be found in Table 1 in the appendix of this report.
The second economic stimulus plan, known as the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus
Package, was unveiled on the March 27th. The package was worth RM250 billion, making it
the largest economic stimulus ever announced in the country. This stimulus package will be
referred to in this report as Stimulus Package 2 (SP2). SP2 was expected to generate greater
economic impact to benefit a wider audience as compared to SP1. With the continuous rise
of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia, the key strategy of SP2 was to combat COVID-19 pandemic
through an allocation of RM500 million for the Ministry of Health in order to enhance the
ministry’s response towards the outbreak. Another RM1 billion was also allocated for the
procurement of equipment and services to contain the outbreak. The coverage of national
health protection scheme, mySalam, was to be extended to COVID-19 patients. Under this
scheme, registered individuals who are hospitalised due to the virus will be entitled to claim
income replacement of RM50 per day for up to 14 days, as well as a one-off payment of
RM8,000 for health complications.
8
In order to ensure food security during the crisis period,
special funds will also be channelled towards food production, storage and distribution.
Multiple measures were also formulated to cushion the negative shock of the pandemic on
businesses. This includes a six-month moratorium on bank loan repayments, lease
exemptions for government-owned premises and exemption of payment to Human
Resources Development Fund levy. Other measures like deferment of tax payment for the
businesses, discounts on electricity bills, microcredit loans, Wage Subsidy Programme and
relaxed regulations on employers’ contribution to the EPF are also announced to assist the
businesses particularly Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). At an individual level, there
are a number of initiatives launched to benefit every household through discounts on
electricity bills and deferment on loan payment. SP2 was formulated to ease the financial
burden of households and individuals from M40 and B40 income groups in the form of
7
BSH or Household Living Aid is a cash handout programme for low income households that was initiated
since 2012 by the Barisan Nasional administration. It was formerly known as 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M).
8
mySalam is a national scheme that provides free health insurance protection (takaful) to the registered BSH
recipients and non-BSH recipients with an annual income of below RM 100,000.
direct cash transfer programme, Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN).
9
Special monthly
allowance for frontline workers announced in the first stimulus package were increased by
an additional of RM200 for each recipient. All civil servants and government pensioners
would also receive a one-off payment of RM500. The government also allocated RM60
million to benefit 120,000 e-hailing drivers through a one-off payment of RM500. In
addition, all students at the higher learning institutions will also receive a one-off payment
of RM200. A summary of the individual benefits under SP2 can be found in Table 2 in the
appendix.
The government demonstrated its commitment towards supporting SMEs by launching an
additional stimulus package in the form of the RM10 billion Prihatin SME Economic Stimulus
Package (Stimulus Package 3), which was announced on April 6. SMEs have played a critical
role in driving economic growth in Malaysia. As reported in SME Annual Report
2018/2019
10
, SMEs represent 98.5% of the total business establishments in Malaysia and
contributed to 38.7% of national GDP, as well as 17.3% of total exports in 2018. In terms of
employment, SMEs are responsible for creating jobs for 66.2% of total employment in
Malaysiait is important to note, however, that this figure is probably an underestimation
given the substantial size of informal employment in the economy. It is therefore pivotal to
consider the significant employment and economic contribution of SMEs in economic policy
responses towards mitigating the adverse effects caused by the pandemic during this critical
period.
Against this backdrop, Stimulus Package 3 (SP3) was formulated to soften the impact of the
MCOs on SMEs, and more importantly, to prevent surges in layoffs. Under this package,
SMEs are allowed to apply for wage subsidies for their employees with the condition that
they must retain the employees for at least six months. Wage subsidies that range between
RM600 to RM1,200 will be offered for each employee depending on the size of the SME.
Registered SMEs are also eligible for a special grant of RM3,000 and zero-interest microloan
schemes which might help in alleviate short-term cash flow issues during the MCO period.
Aside from these three stimulus packages, multiple state-level stimulus packages have also
been announced, with the largest ones being rolled out in Sarawak, Sabah and Selangor. In
line with the federal government, the packages are formulated along a two-pronged
approach: to curb the COVID-19 outbreak and to ease the burden of businesses and people
during the economic downturn. Some common measures in these state-level stimulus
packages are support for frontline workers in terms of food and special allowance, direct
cash payment and daily necessities donations to vulnerable populations, rental exemption
or discounts for public housing, and business premises and deferment in state loan
payment. For example, the B40 population in Sabah and Sarawak will receive a one-off
9
“B40” refers to individuals from the bottom 40th percentile in the income distribution, “M40” refers to
individuals from the 40th till 80th percentile in the income distribution, and “T20” refers to individuals in the
80th percentile and above.
10
http://www.smecorp.gov.my/images/SMEAR/SMEAR2018_2019/final/english/SME%20AR%20-
%20English%20-%20All%20Chapter%20Final%2024Jan2020.pdf
payment of RM300 and 6-month payments of RM250 per month, respectively. A summary
of individual benefits under economic stimulus packages for every state can be found in the
appendix.
These are unprecedented times for the world economy and for public health globally. There
is a significant lag when considering the impact of this crisis on the economy this being, we
have limited knowledge at this point on the true effects of the pandemic on heterogenous
individuals from all walks of life. To address this knowledge gap, the Department of
Statistics Malaysia (DoSM) conducted a survey to gain a better understanding on how the
pandemic affects the economy and individual.
11
In its report, released on April 9th, it was
found that self-employed respondents are the most heavily impacted group as almost half
of them (46.6%) lost their job due to the outbreak and 95% reported reduced income during
this period. They are also the most vulnerable group as more than one-third of them
(71.4%) have limited savings that can only last them for less than one month. It was also
reported that individuals working in agriculture industry were hit the hardest in terms of job
losses and reduction in income. Sabah and Kelantan were also found to be the most heavily
affected states financially. The survey also studied the changes in spending pattern due to
the pandemic. We urge the reader to study the DoSM report for more details and
descriptive data surrounding the effects of the pandemic on individuals in this country. Our
report, in contrast, will be focused on evaluating the effectiveness of the stimulus packages
to address difficulties faced by individuals.
In this report, we will instead be focusing on simulating counterfactual scenarios to get a
rough estimate on the effectiveness of SP2 on individuals in this country. We partition the
respondents of our study into 2 cohorts according to their income levels B40 and M40
and analyze how the policies announced affected the economic positions of these
individuals. We exclude individuals from the T20 income category because few have cash
flow issues, and our survey was designed to focus on lower income households. In Section 2
we describe the methodology of this study, Section 3 presents the findings, Section 4
concludes, and Section 5 is the appendix.
11
https://www.dosm.gov.my/v1/uploads/files/covid-19/Report_of_Special_Survey_on_Effects_of_COVID-
19_on_Economy_and_Individual-Round-1.pdf
2. MethodologySelf-Selection Issues, Random Phone Calls, and Targeted
Qualitative Interviews
The study consisted of data obtained through an online survey, a random selection of phone
calls, and targeted qualitative interviews. The survey consisted of 27 questions, of which 24
were multiple-choice questions and 3 were open-ended questions. It was created in
Qualtrics in 4 languages Bahasa Malaysia, English, Tamil, and Mandarin. The complete
survey can be found in the appendix. It was opened to the public on the 20th of March, 2020
and ended on April 5th. The first round of MCO in Malaysia started on the 18th of March. The
following number of respondents were obtained on each of the dates the survey was made
public:
Table 1: Number of survey respondents throughout time
Date
Number of Respondents
20 March 2020
671
21 March 2020
529
22 March 2020
121
23 March 2020
111
24 March 2020
56
25 March 2020
30
26 March 2020
136
27 March 2020
290
28 March 2020
199
29 March 2020
77
30 March 2020
41
31 March 2020
17
1 April 2020
13
2 April 2020
55
3 April 2020
9
4 April 2020
4
5 April 2020
1
TOTAL
2360
The survey was disseminated through multiple social media channelsWhatsApp,
Facebook (both through targeted ads and public posts), and LinkedIn. This being, the
responses suffered tremendously from self-selection issues that is, as it was titled The
ASB COVID-19 Hardship Survey”, a major concern would be that individuals who were more
severely affected by the pandemic would choose to answer the survey. To alleviate some of
this bias, we created a random list of 326 Malaysian cell phone numbers and called each of
them to confirm certain findings from the study, particularly focusing on the B40 (i.e.
individuals with household income less than RM 4,500/month). The questions asked during
the phone interviews are as follows:
Are you 18 years old or older?
Have you had a (paid) job or run small business in the last month?
Have you lost your job in the last two weeks?
Are you being paid by your employer during the MCO?
On average, has your household’s income been above or below RM4,500 per month
over the last six months? (Your household includes you, any spouse or partner,
children or parents you share finances with.)
16 responses were obtained from the phone calls however, 5 were discarded because the
respondents were either below 18 years old or have never been engaged in any income-
generating activities. We found that 73% of the remaining 11 respondents were from B40
households, with 38% having lost their jobs during the period of MCO.
Furthermore, after going through the data collected from the online survey, we conducted a
follow-up through in-depth phone interviews with four respondents who had agreed, in the
survey they answered, to be interviewed in more details afterwards. The respondents
selected were of 4 typical “profiles”, representing individuals who were commonly seen in
the data:
Respondent 1 was a single 25-year-old e-hailing driver who works on part-time basis
and earns an average income of RM1,500-RM2,000 monthly prior to the MCO.
Respondent 2 was a 52-year-old single mother who owns a roadside food stall with
an average income of RM1,500-RM2,000 prior to the MCO.
Respondent 3 was a 32-year-old working mother with three young children who
earns less than RM1,500 per month.
Respondent 4 was a 37-year-old self-employed tour guide who stays with three
children and parents, all dependent on his average monthly income of RM1,000-
RM1,500.
It’s important to note, also, that Respondent 4 was from a rural area in Sabah while the rest
were urban dwellers in Klang Valley. We conducted two phone interviews with each
respondent (except Profile 2 who was unreachable for the second phone interview) before
and after the announcement of SP2 on March 27. The first phone interviews lasted for
approximately 13 minutes on average while the second ones lasted for about 4 minutes on
average. The semi-structured phone interview aimed to explore two key topics of interest:
the impact of the pandemic and MCO on respondentslivelihoods, and the perception on
the policy response towards the pandemic. In order to explore these themes, we asked the
following questions prior to the announcement of SP2:
1. Can you describe your situation in your own words? What is your source of income
and what has happened over the last few weeks, especially since the MCO?
2. With the MCO extended to April 14th and the possibility of continuing limitations of
work and movement beyond that, what are your concerns about your ability to pay
your bills going forward?
3. The federal and state governments had announced several aid programs. Do you
think these programs will solve your financial problems?
4. What would you like the government to do for people in your situation?
5. Is there anything else you’d like to add about your situation or the COVID crisis in
Malaysia?
Question 3 was asked again in the second call to gather their opinion on SP2. The timeline of
events is presented below in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Timeline for the research study and important events mentioned in the report
3. Findings
In this section, we will present the findings of the study in two pieces the first coming from
simulations done to study counterfactuals to gauge the effectiveness of the economic
stimulus package designed to help individuals (i.e. SP2), and the second coming from the
qualitative data collected through in-depth phone interviews with 4 respondents selected to
represent typical profiles seen in the dataset.
3.1 Simulations
In this section, we analyze the cash-flows for individuals comparing their income to their
expenditures for the month of March. We do this for four scenarios:
1. their liabilities before SP2 and typical income in the six months prior to the MCO,
2. their liabilities before SP2 and their current income during the MCO without the
relief from the stimulus packages,
3. their liabilities after SP2 and their income after SP1 and SP2, less the one-time
transfers, and
4. their liabilities after SP2 and their income after SP1 and SP2, including the one-time
transfers.
The relief that was considered in our model was only that which could be quantified given
our observations. For a full list of what was considered, please refer to Table 3 in the
appendix. For this exercise, we consider only responses from March 27th and earlierlater
responses may already incorporate the measures from the Stimulus Packages (SP) that we
wish to simulate.
To simulate cash flows, we calculate monthly income minus monthly liabilities for the
month of March and assume they persist indefinitely, save for the policy changes we model
such as cash transfers and debt relief. Income was calculated as the average household
income over the last 6 months for the “pre-MCO” specifications and household income over
the last six months multiplied by the fraction of typical income the household being
received during the MCO for the “post-MCO” specifications. We also include transfers,
based on income, marital status, and occupation. Monthly household liabilities were
computed from respondent reports of monthly expenditures for car loans, housing loans,
other loans and debt including credit card debt, as well as telecom bills, utilities, rent, and
other essential expenditures, all at the household level. Respondents reported all these
values by selecting intervals, e.g. RM 1,001 to RM 2,000, rather than reporting exact
amounts. Thus, we use the midpoint of each interval in our calculationsRM 1,500.50 for
the previous example.
There are several important provisos to this analysis: as mentioned above, the sample is a
non-representative convenience sample. Also, respondents only report a band for their
income, the degree to which it is decreased under the MCO, and their monthly
expenditures. Thus, a significant amount of measurement error is present in our data.
Practically, this means that some respondents will be miscategorized as cash-flow negative
when they aren’t and vice versa. We can expect to see more extreme cases than actually
exist among our samplepeople who look extremely insolvent because they’re at the top
of their income reporting band and at the bottom of their expenses’ bands, and people who
look very well off because of the opposite scenario. This means the cash-flow histograms
you see below will be a bit wider than is realistic, with too many people far to the left and
far to the right on the graph.
An additional difficulty is that respondents may not report accurately, as they may not be
able to compute or recall all their expenses. A more serious concern is that, while
respondents were asked to report household income, some may have reported personal
income instead. Reporting individual expenses is much less likely, as many expenses come
from shared resources like housing, food, cars, and utilities. This will yield a negative bias to
the cash-flow, as income is systematically underreported. This will primarily affect the B40
category in our data, as many M40 respondents reporting personal income will be
misclassified as B40. It may also affect the M40 category, as underreporting T20
respondents will be misclassified as M40. To attempt to account for this, in the following
analysis we exclude observations where housing loans are more than two thirds of their
pre-MCO income, where car loans are more than ½ their pre-MCO income, where telecom
bills are more than 1/3rd of their pre-MCO income, and where utilities are more than ½ their
pre-MCO income. After these exclusions, our B40 sample consists of 632 individuals and our
M40 sample consists of 587 individuals. The threshold for M40 is approximately RM 4,500,
and one of our income intervals is “RM 4,000 to RM 5,000”, so we include this group of
respondents in both groups.
12
Even with these exclusions, there is still likely to be some
downward bias in our measurement of cash-flow. That said, our sampling window ends on
March 27th, and there have likely been many further job losses in the intervening weeks that
are not captured in our data, so our data also has an upward bias for cash-flow under the
MCO, which may counteract the downward bias discussed above.
Finally, we drop T20 from our analysis because most T20 respondents had income or
expenditures above the maximum option given in our survey, which was targeted towards
the B40 segment. For example, the maximum monthly income option in the survey was
RM20,000 or more, and many T20 respondents reported an income in that range. We
cannot say whether such a respondent has an income of RM20,000 per month or
RM100,000 per month, so any attempt to compute cash-flow will not be credible.
Respondents in the B40 and M40 segments cannot report extreme income values by
definition, and rarely reported extreme values for expenditures. We retain those that do in
the sample, multiplying the minimum threshold by 1.33. For example, the maximum
category for rent is “RM 4,000 or more”, so we model these responses as a rental cost of
4000*1.33=RM 5,333. Dropping these extreme reports from the sample makes little
difference to our findings, so we proceed with the largest possible sample.
12
157 respondents in the final sample fall into this group.
Figure 2: The proportion of the popu lation that remains ca sh-flow positive in April with 95% confidence intervals.
To begin, we first looked at the proportion of individuals that would be cash-flow positive in
the four scenarios mentioned above from each income category B40 and M40. The results
are depicted in Figure 2. Notable is the proportionmore than a quarterof B40
respondents who had negative cash-flow before the MCO. While it should not be surprising
that a fraction of low-income households are cash-flow negative in any given month, the
true fraction is likely less than 1/4th, the number being inflated by the noisy measurement
and misreporting of personal income described before. It also includes some older
households living primarily on savings. That said, we see a huge increase in cash-flow
negative respondents after the MCO, due to lost jobs or decreased incomenearly 20% of
B40 respondents went from cash-flow positive to cash-flow negative. The M40 also saw a
significant decrease in positive cash-flow. It’s clear that the stimulus packages (SP) have
been sufficient to resolve these cash-flow issues, at least in the short term. For the B40, it
has actually improved short term cash-flow relative to the pre-MCO baseline, though this
may come at the cost of poor households accruing more debt in the long term. The other
headline result here is that, while B40 respondents benefit roughly equally from the debt
holiday and cash transfers, the debt holiday alone accounts for nearly all the increase in the
proportion of M40 respondents with positive cash-flow. This should not be surprising as
M40 respondents receive less money and have larger monthly debt payments.
Figure 3: Histogram of the April cash-flow of B40 respondents with and without SP. The Y-axis gives the number of
respondents in each interval.
However, even with SP, a significant fraction of respondents are cash-flow negative in each
of the three income bracketsmore than 10% of B40 respondents are still cash-flow
negative, for example. The question is, how severe is this income shortfall? Figure 3 shows
us that not only does SP move many B40 respondents into a positive cash-flow situation,
but it dramatically decreases the rate of loss for those who are still in the red. Without
relief, most negative cashflow respondents were haemorrhaging more than RM1,000 a
month, and many were losing RM3,000 or RM4,000. Under SP, less than half are losing
more than RM1,000 a month, and almost none lose more than RM2,000 a month.
Figure 4: Histogram of the time to insolvency of negative cash-flow B40 respondents in months, with and without SP. The Y-
axis gives the number of respondents in each interval. All values above 24 months are binned with 24 months.
We also collected data on savings, and Figure 4 shows, for B40 households with negative
cash-flow, how many months a household can service their losses before running out of
savings. Without relief, “Savings” is the amount of money a household can easily convert
into cash, as solicited in the survey. With relief, it also includes EPF savings. We assume
expenditures remain at March levels, save for the debt holiday and discounts, and monthly
transfers last in perpetuity, but one-time transfers only occur in the first month and monthly
income corresponds to the amount respondents reported under the MCO. We see that,
without relief, almost all B40 households with negative cash-flow would last a month or less
on accessible savings. With relief, including access to EPF funds, most cash-flow negative
B40 households can last more than a month, and many can last for the foreseeable future.
Roughly 2/3rds can last more than three months under SP, while only about 1/7th can last
more than three months without the packages.
Figure 4 shows time to insolvency up to 24 months assuming the status quo, but the status
quo persisting for two years is implausible. Thus, the true number of months a respondent
can last on savings is subject to a great deal of uncertainty for respondents who were
calculated to be able to last for a year or more. This graph shows that about half of
respondents can last for many months under the relief regime but should not be read as
credibly predicting exactly how long.
Figure 5: Histogram of the April cash-flow of M40 respondents with and without SP. The Y-axis gives the number of
respondents in each interval.
Figure 5 shows us that SP moves many of the M40 respondents who were cash-flow
negative into a positive cash-flow situation, and dramatically curtails the number of
respondents who were losing RM3,000 a month or more.
Figure 6: Histogram o f the t ime to i nsolven cy o f negative cash-flow M40 respondents in months, with and without SP. The
Y-axis gives the number of respondents in each interval. All values above 24 months are binned with 24 months.
Figure 6 shows that, among cash-flow negative M40 respondents the SP dramatically
reduces the frequency of insolvency in one month or less. While only a quarter of cash-flow
negative M40 respondents can survive more than three months without SP, nearly 4/5ths
can survive more than 3 months with SP.
Figure 7 (a) and (b): (a) percent of single respondents who are cash-flow positive without one-time transfers, before and
after a RM400 per month payment. (b) Percent of married respondents who are cash-flow positive without one-time
transfers, before and after a RM400 per month payment.
Finally, while the SP policies dramatically decrease the rate of short-term insolvency in our
simulation, there are still a significant number of respondents who may deplete their
savings in the next few months, particularly among members of the B40 with no savings.
Therefore, if the economic situation does not quickly improve, the government may
consider additional cash transfers. Thus, we conclude our analysis with a set of policy
counterfactuals showing the benefitin terms of respondents brought into positive cash-
flowof transfers to the four main demographics identified in SP2: married low income
households, married middle income households, single low-income households, and single
middle-income households. We consider an RM1,000 transfer to families and an RM400
transfer to single households to attempt to control for the larger household size and higher
necessary expenditures of families. Figure 7 shows the results. 7(a) shows that the RM400
transfer barely changes the rate of negative cash-flow for middle income single households
(a decrease of roughly 2%), but appears to dramatically decreases the rate of negative cash-
flow for low income single households (a decrease of roughly 14%), albeit with a great deal
of uncertainty embodied in the large confidence intervals. This story is even clearer for
married households: the RM1,000 transfer decreases the middle-income negative cash-flow
rate by roughly 2% but decreases the low-income negative cash-flow rate by roughly 18%.
The implication is clear: if policymakers are concerned with household budget constraints
but cannot afford to continue the large April transfers indefinitely, transfers to lower
income households are dramatically more cost effective.
3.2 Qualitative Findings
From the in-depth phone interviews, we found that respondents generally had two main
concerns. The first was the immediate need to purchase basic necessities like food for the
entire family, and diapers and milk for young children. Respondents also needed cash for
other daily supplies and to fulfil financial obligations such as loan repayments, bills and rental
payments. It’s important to note that all of the respondents received no income during the
MCO, and only 3 of them had any amount of savings (each less than RM 200), with none
having an employment provident fund (EPF) account. Some respondents relied heavily on
family networks in order to make it through the MCO period for example, Respondent 1
remarked that, “(I) have to borrow some people money lah. Like family…borrow money
first…have to survive first lah.”
13
Respondent 3 also expressed a similar sentiment: Sekarang
pun macam critical sangat ni, bantuan pun tak cukup semua. Pampers, susu, itu paling
utama.” [“It is quite critical now, assistance is also inadequate. Diapers and milk are the most
important (for us).”]
While there have been ad hoc assistance coming from civil society groups and non-
governmental organizations (NGOs), most of this is only targeted at specific vulnerable
populations or existing welfare beneficiaries such as orang asnaf
14
or single mothers. As a
result of this, many people who are not considered as members of these groups prior to the
COVID-19 pandemic but are equally impacted by the MCO and the pandemic may slip
through the cracks. To see this, consider the following quote from Respondent 2, who noted
that existing assistance often came with rules and specific population targets:
“Ada beberapa NGO yang try masuk ke Lembah Subang ni bawa sedikit bantuan lah, kepada
yang memerlukan. Tapi dia orang pun tapis juga la. Perlu ada yang... ada syarat sikit lah.
untuk ibu tunggal, warga emas dan sebagainya. Lagi apa orang kata. Saya punya sebab
saya tak termasuk lah dalam tu. Kalau saya, saya minta cadangan untuk bantuan sama
rata. Untuk semua, bukan untuk yang tertentu golongan saja macam asnaf ke, ibu tunggal
ke, macam tu. Dia semua yang ada la. Sama rata. Yang ada anak-anak kecik, sekolah, ah
itu.[“There are a few NGOs which came to Lembah Subang with some assistance to people
who are in need. But they filter and only target at certain beneficiary groups. For instance,
single mother, elders and so on. But I’m not part of these targeted groups… For me, I would
suggest that the assistance to be given equally for everyone instead of only specific groups
such as asnaf, single mother and etc. Let everyone be treated the same. Those who have
young children, or school-going children and so on.”]
The second concern expressed by the interview respondents was how they would return
back to their “normal” lives post-MCO, given that the pandemic would (probably) still be
ongoing. Respondent 2, who operates a food stall, expressed their worry on how their small
13
All quotes from interview respondents were transcribed verbatim in the original language they were spoken
in and followed by the English translation in parentheses.
14
Asnaf is beneficiary who is eligible to receive Zakat (almsgiving) aid collected from Muslims.
business would be impacted by the pandemic: Macam boleh korek korek korek mana yang
boleh kita makan apa kan. But then masa benda ni habis tu, kita nak berniaga balik pun kita
kena ada insentif juga. Mana nak cari modal kan? Semua habis. Kita kena cari modal balik.
Sedangkan macam kita berniaga just macam dulu-dulu kita mula dengan modal yang sikit,
500-600. Kita rolling rolling dapat. Dulu kan. Sekarang benda tu tak de dah habis. Even stok
yang kita nak buat niaga pun habis. Jadi kena ada sedikit insentif. Bukannya kita mengharap
semuanya kerajaan nak kena fikirkan untuk kita lah kan. Tapi sekurang-kurangnya ada lah
sedikit untuk yang berniaga sendiri lah macam kami ni. [“We can just dig out whatever we
have for now. But when we use up all we’d got, we would need some incentives to resume
our business. How do we find capital then? Everything is used up. We need to gather the
capital again. Prior to this, I started my business with small capital, RM500-600 and
accumulated from there. Now all capital is gone. Even my business inventory is also gone.
So, there should be some incentives. We are not putting all burden on the government but
at least there should be some being allocated for small business owners like us.”]
While all respondents seemed able to utilize whatever they had available to them to
survive, with some even taking out additional loans during the MCO period, they were all
worried about how to get back on their feet in the future. Those who were employed prior
to the MCO might be at risk of losing their job furthermore, with plummeting economic
growth, getting back to work will also be a significant challenge for this population as MCO
restrictions are lifted.
Another point to highlight from the interviews is that the impact of the crisis varies by
geographical area. Respondent 4 voiced his concern about the mobility restriction imposed
on them. Saya harap kerajaan tu lah…bagi bantuan yang secepat mungkin lah sebab sudah
hampir 2 minggu kan. Tidak boleh keluar dari rumah. Jadi di kampung sekarang ni..
keperluan harian lah. Mau keluar pun memang jauh daripada pekan. Jadi saya harapkan
bagi bantuan lah.” [“I hope the government will help as soon as possible because it is
almost two weeks now. We can’t go out. We’re in the village at the moment. Daily
necessities. Even if we want to go out, it is far from town. So, I hope we can receive
assistance.”] Even though Respondent 4 was better off compared to the other three
respondents in terms of liquidity, it was still very difficult for him to travel to the nearby
town to purchase daily necessities under the MCO. In this context, cash transfers might not
be as effective as in-kind assistancethis, in fact, might lessen, to an extent, the impact of
the cash assistance provided in SP2.
4. Conclusion
We find that the Malaysian government’s stimulus packages are likely to address most of
the cash-flow issues brought on by the COVID-19 crisis, at least in the short term. While a
substantial minority of M40 respondents and a nearly half of B40 respondents reported
negative cash-flow due to the crisis, the stimulus policies, particularly those in SP2, are able
to decrease negative cash-flow rates in April among our respondents to levels at or below
those that persisted before the COVID-19 crisis, and among the minority who still have
negative cash-flow in April, most have enough savings to survive for more than three
months, assuming income and expenditures from March persist.
However, a small minority of respondents in our survey are still likely to run out of money in
the next few months, especially among the B40. If policymakers wish to further protect
households from budget crises after the one-time transfers of April, our analysis shows that
transfers to lower-income householdsfamilies making RM 4,000 or less and single
individuals making RM 2,000 or lessare dramatically more effective.
There are several caveats to our conclusions: our sample is not representative, and our
cash-flow estimates are only approximate, so our results should only be viewed as
suggestive. Our simulation excludes state level relief packages and several elements of the
SP that we could not quantify in our survey, such as transfers to those under quarantine and
police officers. Additionally, our responses come from the beginning of the MCO, so they
likely undercount the number of Malaysians who have lost their jobs or have decreased
income. This sample also excludes migrant workers and refugees, who are not eligible for
most benefits in the stimulus packages and often face even more severe cash-flow
difficulties. Finally, this analysis assumes benefits can be easily and quickly disbursed to
distressed households. Elderly individuals or those in rural areas may not have the internet
access or expertise to secure their benefits, and delays in disbursement could be
catastrophic for households with no savings.
5. Appendix Summary of Economic Stimulus Packages
15
Table 1: Summary of individual benefits under the initial RM20 billion stimulus package
(SP1)
Beneficiary
Items
Every individual
RM100 digital voucher for domestic tourism
Up to RM1,000 personal income tax relief for
expenditure related to domestic tourism
Optional reduction in the minimum Employees
Provident Fund (EPF) contribution from 11% to 7%
from April-December 2020
Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH)
Recipients
An advanced payment of RM200 in March 2020*16
An additional of RM100 to be paid in May 2020*
An additional of RM50 in e-tunai*
Taxi drivers, tourist bus drivers,
tourist guides and registered
trishaw drivers
One-off payment of RM600*
Front line workers:
Medical personnel
Immigration and related
A special monthly allowance of: (overwritten later)
RM400
RM200
Source: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/02/569732/2020-economic-stimulus-package-full-
speech-text-english
15
The stimulus package presented here focuses only on benefits enjoyed by individuals.
16
Items with * in Tables 1 and 2 are included in our analysis in Section 5 and summarized in Table 3.
Table 2: Summary of individual benefits under the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus
Package (SP2)
Beneficiary
Items
Every individual
1GB free mobile data during the MCO period*
15%-50% discount on electricity bill for 6
months*17
6-month moratorium including PTPTN and bank
loans*
Restructuring of credit card payments*
3-month deferment of insurance premium
payment
Pre-retirement withdrawal from Account B of EPF
and Private Retirement Scheme
Deferment of income tax payment until Sep 30
Front line workers:
Medical personnel
Immigration and related
A special monthly allowance of:*
RM600
RM400
Households with monthly income of:
Below RM4,000
RM4,000 -RM8,000
Direct payment of:*
RM1,600
RM800
Single individuals aged 21 and above with
monthly income of:
Below RM2,000
RM2,000-RM4,000
Direct payment of:*
RM800
RM500
Civil servants:
Grade 56 and below (including
contract workers)
Pensioners
One-off payment of RM500*
E-hailing drivers
One-off payment of RM500*
Students at higher learning institutions
One-off payment of RM200*
Public housing tenants
6-month rental exemption
mySalam recipients infected and under
quarantine
Allowance of RM50/day up to 14 days
People who lost their jobs because of
MCO or quarantine or treatment
RM100/day throughout the affected period
Source: https://www.pmo.gov.my/2020/03/speech-text-prihatin-esp/
17
www.tnb.com.my/prihatin
Table 3: Individual benefits used in the analysis in Section 3
18
Items
Assumptions
Every individual
1GB free mobile data during the MCO period19
15%-50% discount on electricity bill for 6
months20
6-month moratorium including PTPTN and
bank loans21
Restructuring of credit card payments
Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) Recipients22
An advanced payment of RM200 in March 2020
An additional of RM100 to be paid in May 2020
An additional of RM50 in e-tunai
Taxi drivers, tourist bus drivers, tourist
guides and registered trishaw drivers
One-off direct payment of RM60023
Front line workers:
Medical personnel
A special monthly allowance of:
RM600
Households with monthly income of:
Below RM4,000
RM4,000 -RM8,00024
Direct payment of:
RM1,600
RM800
Single individuals aged 21 and above
with monthly income of:
Below RM2,000
RM2,000-RM4,000
Direct payment of:
RM800
RM500
Civil servants:
Grade 56 and below (including
contract workers)
Pensioners
One-off payment of RM500
E-hailing drivers
One-off payment of RM500
Students at higher learning institutions
One-off payment of RM200
18
We also assume that respondents are fully able to utilize their EPF accounts to service debts.
19
We assume this allows customers to cut their telecom costs by up to RM30, though never to less than 0.
20
The discounts by kWh consumption can be found here:
https://www.tnb.com.my/announcements/economic-stimulus-package-discount-on-electricity-bill
We only observe total utility bill, not a breakout for electricity, so we assume electricity constitutes 75% of the
utility bill. Further, respondents do not report their exact outlays on utilities, but only specify an interval, so we
cannot perfectly map respondents to discounts. Based on the discounts listed in the above source, we use the
following assignment: RM0-100 gets a 50% discount on electricity. RM101-RM200 gets a 25% discount,
RM201-300 gets a 15% discount. RM301+ gets a 2% discount.
21
For our simulation, we assume all debt service can be delayed, though some borrowers may not be eligible,
and credit card payments may require a small amount of monthly debt service.
22
We only consider the March payment of RM200+RM50=RM250.
23
We cannot distinguish taxi drivers from E-hailing drivers, so we use the RM500 payment for both.
24
This threshold falls in the RM5,000-RM10,000 category in our survey, so we assign each respondent with
that reported income range RM800*3/5=RM480.
Table 4: State-level stimulus packages
Selangor
Beneficiary
Items
Frontliner
Medical personnel
Media and security personnel
RM600 childcare incentive
One-off payment of RM200 and food packs
Food packs
Students:
Selangorian stranded in public
universities in Sabah and Sarawak
UNISEL, KUIS and INPENS College
One-off payment of RM200
Food aid
COVID-19 patients
One-off payment of RM1,000
Farmers and fishermen
In kind assistance: seedlings, equipment, raw
materials
Agropreneur aid of RM1,000
Smart Sewa Scheme
3-month deferment and restructuring of rental
payment
Hijrah Selangor Scheme borrowers
Moratorium and restructuring of debt payment
State Assembly Representative (ADUN)
Extra fund allocation of RM60,000
Council members, traditional village
leaders, New Village Community
Management Council chairman and
community leaders
Extra fund allocation of RM5,000
Land owner
2-month deferment in land tax payments
Registered F&B participants of Blueprint
program
One-off payment of RM400
Registered vendors
One-off payment of RM500
One-month rental exemption for public
premises
Health related
Free face mask, hand sanitiser and glove
Mass testing
Quarantine centre operation
Peduli Sihat Insurance scheme
Mental health counselling services
Source: https://www.amirudinshari.com/posts/pakej-rangsangan-ekonomi-selangor-prihatin-fasa-kedua
Johor
Beneficiary
Items
Public housing tenant
3-month rental exemption
B40 participants in Rent-to-Own
scheme
6-month moratorium
COVID-19 patients
Infected
Death
One-off payment of RM1,000
One-off payment of RM2,000
Frontline police and armed force
Food packs
Johorian student stranded at public
universities
Peninsular Malaysia
West Malaysia
Mesir and Jordan
One-off payment of RM200
One-off payment of RM300
One-off payment of RM200
Public universities in Johor
RM370,000 allocation for the stranded students
Religious schools
RM300,000 allocation for the stranded students
B40 population
Food bank initiative
Market vendors
7-month rental exemption
State Assembly Representative
(ADUN)
Extra fund allocation of RM20,000
Land owner
Deferment in land tax payments until Sep 30
Student loans
3-month deferment in loan payment
Health related
RM500,000 allocated in the procurement of
equipment and services for health department
Disinfection and sterilisation in affected areas
Micro enterprises
Exemption for business license fee in 2020
Sources: https://www.facebook.com/psukj/posts/2936281649750877
https://www.facebook.com/pdpontian/photos/a.853665084696488/3049067541822887/?type=3&source=54
Melaka
Beneficiary
Items
Vendor and small businesses
2-month rental exemption for public premises
Exemption for business license fee in 2020
One-off payment of RM500
Frontline medical personnel and
police
Food packs
Student loans (TAPEM)
3-month deferment in loan payment
Melaccan students in:
Mesir
Jordan
One-off payment of RM200
One-off payment of RM300
Land owner
Deferment in land tax payments until Jul 31
Asnaf recipient
RM100 food aid
B40 group
Emergency food kit
Public housing tenant
50% reduction in rental payment for Mar and Apr
Low cost house tenant and owner
10% discount on water bill for Mar and Apr
All household
Deferment in water bill payment for March
Health related
RM100,000 allocated in the procurement of
equipment for health department
RM5,000 in quarantine centre operation
RM17,000 to hospitals
Sources: https://www.melaka.gov.my/ms/info-terkini/pengumuman/pemberian-bantuan-khas-untuk-
golongan-sasar-yang-terjejas-akibat-wabak-covid-19-di-melaka
https://www.maim.gov.my/index.php/my/pengumuman/1225-bantuan-covid
Perak
Beneficiary
Items
Vulnerable group
RM720,000 allocated for food box donation
Registered vendors and small businesses
One-off payment of RM500
F&B operator at public premises
50% reduction in rental payment for Mar and Apr
Front line medical personnel
Lunch and dinner packs
Public housing tenant
3-month rental deferment
State issued loans
3-month moratorium
Health related
RM160,000 allocated in the procurement of
equipment for health department
Source: https://www.perak.gov.my/images/covid/bantuan.pdf
Negeri Sembilan
Beneficiary
Items
E-hailing and taxi drivers
One-off payment of RM300
COVID-19 patients
One-off payment of RM500
B40 and daily wage workers
RM5 million allocated to basic necessity
assistance
Registered vendors and small businesses
One-off payment of RM300
Public housing tenant
2-month rental exemption
Public premises tenant
2-month stall rental exemption
Health related
RM1 million allocated to medical frontline
Source: https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=2442245569326494&set=a.1988054474745608
Pahang
Beneficiary
Items
Vulnerable population
One-off payment of RM100-150
In kind assistance
Village head
Village development council director
One-off payment of RM300
One-off payment of RM200
Pahang students stranded at public
universities
One-off payment of RM150
Public housing tenant
50% reduction in rental payment for Apr
Public premises tenant
50% reduction in rental payment for Apr
Frontliners
Food packs
State Assembly Representative (ADUN)
Extra fund allocation of RM6,000 each
E-hailing drivers
RM30,000 fund allocation
Source: https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=2568807026668709&set=a.1679663508916403
Perlis
Beneficiary
Items
Vulnerable population
RM3.5 million allocated for food assistance
One-off payment of RM50 for children
below 3 years old
RM3.86 million of emergency relief and
stimulus package for the Asnaf
RM3 million for the poorest group
Every individual
Water bill exemption for the first 20m3
Public housing rent-to-own scheme
Student loan
6-month moratorium
Public housing tenants
6-month rental exemption
COVID-19 patients
Infected
Death
One-off payment of RM1,000
One-off payment of RM2,000
Frontliners
Food packs
RM912,000 of incentives
Students stranded in Perlis tertiary institution
RM200,000 allocated
State Assembly Representative (ADUN)
Extra fund allocation of RM10,000 each
Public premises tenant under
State owned
Majlis Agama Islam dan Adat Istiadat
Melayu
Majlis Perbandaran Kangar &
Perbadanan Kemajuan Ekonomi
Market
6-month stall rental exemption
3-month stall rental exemption
50% reduction in rental payment for Mar &
Apr; 20% for May-Aug
1-month rental exemption
Land Tax Payment Scheme
Property and land tax rebates
Source: https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=580254545942528&set=a.182568139044506
Terengganu
Beneficiary
Items
Vulnerable population
RM1.6 million allocated for daily necessities
donation
Public housing tenants
2-month rental exemption
Public premises tenants
1-month rental exemption
State loans
2-month moratorium
State Assembly Representative (ADUN)
Extra fund allocation of RM300,000 each
Source: https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=635750456982539&set=a.635749570315961
Kelantan
Beneficiary
Items
COVID-19 patients
Infected and under investigation
Death
One-off payment of RM300
One-off payment of RM500
Civil servants
One-off payment of RM500
Political appointees
One-off payment of RM250
Vulnerable population
Asnaf
Orang Asli
RM2.3 million fund allocation
RM300,000 fund allocation
Student and teacher personnel at religious
schools
RM500,000 fund allocation
All Frontline worker
Medical personnel
One-off payment of RM300
Food packs
State Assembly Representative (ADUN)
Extra fund allocation of RM300,000 each
Public premises tenant
2-month rental exemption
Source: http://www.e-maik.my/v2/index.php/ms/arkib/berita-artikel/berita-2020/1143-makluman-maik-
telah-memperuntukan-rm-7-9-juta-bagi-fasa-2-program-prihatin-maik-bermula-1-april-2021.html
Kedah
Beneficiary
Items
Vulnerable population
Those who lost job
RM1.2m from Zakat for food bank
One-off payment of RM300
Students at tertiary institutions in Kedah
Kedahan students in Mesir and Jordan
RM550,000 fund allocation
Health-related
RM300,000 allocated for quarantine centre
operation
RM450,000 allocated for mask, sanitizers
State Assembly Representative (ADUN)
Extra fund allocation of RM100,000 each
Frontline
RM400,000 fund allocation
Land owner
Deferment in land tax payment to Sep 30
Source: https://www.kedah.gov.my/berita-terkini/660-covid-19-kedah-peruntuk-rm-21juta-bantu-rakyat
Pulau Pinang
Beneficiary
Items
Asnaf
RM3 million fund allocation
Frontline
One-off payment of RM300
Hawkers and small businesses
Tour guide, taxi and trishaw drivers
Existing welfare recipient
One-off payment of RM500
E-hailing driver
One-off payment of RM300
Public premises tenant
1-month rental exemption
Public housing tenant
2-month rental exemption
Mosque
Surau
One-off payment of RM1,000
One-off payment of RM500
COVID-19 patients
Infected
Death
One-off payment of RM500
One-off payment of RM1,000
State Assembly Representative (ADUN)
Extra fund allocation of RM30,000 each
Land owner
Deferment in land tax payment to Aug 30
State loans
3-month moratorium
Health related
RM10 million allocated for the procurement of
equipment and items for health department
Source: https://penanglawancovid19.com/page/album?name=bantuan
Sabah
Beneficiary
Items
All household
30% discount on electricity bill for 3 months
3-month water bill exemption
20% discount on tax
Vulnerable population
Registered e-Kasih beneficiary
Taxi driver, single mum, farmer,
fishermen, mountain guide and porter,
elderly, orphans, disable
One-off payment of RM500
One-off payment of RM300
Sabahan students stranded in the
Peninsular
RM2 million fund allocation
Public housing tenant
6-month rental exemption
COVID-19 patients
One-off payment of RM500
Frontline workers
RM10 million allocated for food packs
Hawkers
Exemption on business license fee
Health related
RM50 million allocated for the personal protection
equipment
Source: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2020/03/25/sabah-announces-rm670-million-
aid-package-to-cushion-covid-19-impact/
Sarawak
Beneficiary
Items
All households
5%-25% discount on electric bill from Apr-Sept
10%-25% discount on water bill from Apr-Sept
Free mask
B40 group
One-off payment of RM250 over 6 months
Frontline
Medical personnel
Immigration, security and
related staffs
One-off payment of RM300 and food packages
One-off payment of RM200
Registered hawker and petty trader
One-off payment of RM1,500
Public premises tenant
50% discount on rental for over 6 months
Public housing tenant
50% discount on rental for over 6 months
Taxpayers
25% discount on residential, commercial and industrial
tax
Businesses
Exemption on business license fee
Land owner
30% discount on land taxes and exemption on land
premium payment
Source: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/03/577410/sarawak-cm-announces-rm115bil-aid-
package
The Asia School of Business COVID-19 Hardship
Survey
Asia School of Business (ASB) is running this study to identify the economic difficulties
caused by the COVID-19 crisis in Malaysia, in order to suggest possible solutions to the
government. You are invited to participate in this study by filling out the survey below.
By agreeing to participate in this study, you understand that:
All questions relating to this study have been answered to your satisfaction and that
you understand the nature and scope of this research.
You voluntarily agree to participate in this research and that you can withdraw at
any time, without giving any reason.
Any information collected is completely private and confidential.
Only researchers will see your responses.
Any reports from this survey will NOT identify individuals. Only summary statistics
will be reported.
Do you agree to participate?
¨ Yes
¨ No
1. What is your gender?
¨ Male
¨ Female
2. What is your age?
______________________
3. What is your race?
¨ Malay
¨ Chinese
¨ Indian
¨ Other
4. Which state are you located?
¨ Johor
¨ Kedah
¨ Kelantan
¨ Melaka
¨ Negeri Sembilan
¨ Pahang
¨ Perak
¨ Perlis
¨ Pulau Pinang
¨ Sabah
¨ Sarawak
¨ Selangor
¨ Terengganu
¨ WP Kuala Lumpur
¨ WP Labuan
5. Are you married?
¨ Yes
¨ No
6. Do you live with your parent(s)? Do they still work?
¨ Yes, and at least one works
¨ Yes, but they do not work
¨ No
7. How many children do you have that live with you?
¨ None
¨ 1
¨ 2
¨ 3
¨ 4
¨ 5-9
¨ 10+
8. What is your paid occupation, if any? That is, what is your job title?
(If you're unemployed, your most recent occupation. If you do not work, none.)
_______________________________________________________
9. Does your occupation fit any of these categories?
¨ Service (talking to customers)
¨ Office Work
¨ Delivery or Driving
¨ Manufacturing/Factory Work
¨ Self-Employed (own business)
¨ None of the Above
10. Over the past 6 months, on average, how much has your household earned each
month? For example, if you are married and make about RM 2,000 a month while your
spouse makes about
RM 1,000 a month, please report RM 3,000 (RM 2,000 + RM 1,000).
¨ RM 0 - RM 500
¨ RM 501 - RM 1,000
¨ RM 1,001 - RM 1,500
¨ RM 1,501 - RM 2,000
¨ RM 2,001 - RM 2,500
¨ RM 2,501 - RM 3,000
¨ RM 3,001 - RM 4,000
¨ RM 4,001 - RM 5,000
¨ RM 5,001 - RM 10,000
¨ RM 10,001 - RM 20,000
¨ Above RM 20,000
11. Are you working during the Movement Restriction Order, which started on March 18,
2020 (Tuesday)?
¨ Yes
¨ No, and I'm not being paid
¨ No, but I'm still being paid
12. How much is your household being paid per day relative to your usual income reported
above since the Movement Restriction Order? Choose the closest available option.
¨ The usual amount (reported above)
¨ More than the usual amount
¨ 3/4 the usual amount
¨ 1/2 the usual amount
¨ 1/4 the usual amount
¨ Nothing
13. Have you lost your job in the last two weeks?
¨ Yes
¨ No
14. How much does your household owe in telecom bills (cell service, Astro, internet) this
month?
¨ None at all
¨ Less than RM 100
¨ RM 101 - RM 200
¨ RM 201 - RM 300
¨ RM 301 - RM 400
¨ RM 401 - RM 500
¨ RM 501 - RM 750
¨ RM 751 - RM 1,000
15. How much does your household owe in other utilities (water, electricity) this month?
¨ None at all
¨ Less than RM 50
¨ RM 51 - RM 100
¨ RM 101 - RM 200
¨ RM 201 - RM 300
¨ RM 301 - RM 500
¨ RM 501 - RM 750
¨ RM 751 - RM 1,000
16. How much does your household owe in rent this month?
¨ None at all
¨ Less than RM 200
¨ RM 201 - RM 400
¨ RM 401 - RM 600
¨ RM 601 - RM 800
¨ RM 801 - RM 1,000
¨ RM 1,001 - RM 1,500
¨ RM 1,501 - RM 2,000
¨ RM 2,001 - RM 2,500
¨ RM 2,501 - RM 3,000
¨ Above RM 3,000
17. How much does your household owe in housing loan payments this month?
¨ None at all
¨ Less than RM 200
¨ RM 201 - RM 400
¨ RM 401 - RM 600
¨ RM 601 - RM 800
¨ RM 801 - RM 1,000
¨ RM 1,001 - RM 1,500
¨ RM 1,501 - RM 2,000
¨ RM 2,001 - RM 2,500
¨ RM 2,501 - RM 3,000
¨ Above RM 3,000
18. How much does your household owe in car loan payments this month?
¨ None at all
¨ Less than RM 50
¨ RM 51 - RM 100
¨ RM 101 - RM 200
¨ RM 201 - RM 300
¨ RM 301 - RM 500
¨ RM 501 - RM 750
¨ RM 751 - RM 1,000
¨ RM 1,001 - RM 1,500
¨ RM 1,501 - RM 2,000
¨ Above RM 2,000
19. How much does your household owe in other loan or debt payments for this month?
¨ None at all
¨ Less than RM 200
¨ RM 201 - RM 400
¨ RM 401 - RM 600
¨ RM 601 - RM 800
¨ RM 801 - RM 1,000
¨ RM 1,001 - RM 1,500
¨ RM 1,501 - RM 2,000
¨ RM 2,001 - RM 2,500
¨ RM 2,501 - RM 3,000
¨ Above RM 3,000
20. How much does your household need for other essential expenditures this month?
¨ None at all
¨ Less than RM 100
¨ RM 101 - RM 200
¨ RM 201 - RM 300
¨ RM 301 - RM 400
¨ RM 401 - RM 500
¨ RM 501 - RM 750
¨ RM 751 - RM 1,000
¨ RM 1,001 - RM 1,500
¨ RM 1,501 - RM 2,000
¨ Above RM 2,000
21. How much savings do you have that you can easily withdraw as cash?
¨ None at all
¨ Less than RM 200
¨ RM 201 - RM 500
¨ RM 501 - RM 1,000
¨ RM 1,001 - RM 2,000
¨ RM 2,001 - RM 5,000
¨ RM 5,001 - RM 10,000
¨ RM 10,001 - RM 20,000
¨ Above RM 20,000
22. How much money do you have in your EPF account? Choose "None" if you do not have
an EPF account.
¨ None at all
¨ Less than RM 1,000
¨ RM 1,001 - RM 2,000
¨ RM 2,001 - RM 5,000
¨ RM 5,001 - RM 20,000
¨ RM 20,001 - RM 50,000
¨ Above RM 50,000
23. Will you be able to pay all your bills this month, given your current household income?
¨ Yes
¨ Maybe
¨ No
24. If you lost your job, would you be able to pay all your bills this month? If you do not
currently have a job, give the same answer as the previous question.
¨ Yes
¨ Maybe
¨ No
25. Please enter your phone number if you'd like to be entered into the lucky draw for
RM250.
____________________________________________
26. Would you be willing to have a brief phone conversation about the economic challenges
you face due to the COVID-19 crisis? If yes, a researcher may contact you via the phone
number above.
¨ Yes, please contact me
¨ No, do not contact me
... Without a source of income, many households would quickly lose access to essential needs like food or housing [7]. In order to lessen their financial burden, the Malaysian government has created a series of stimulus packages. ...
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Full-text available
Background : The Malaysian government reacted to the pandemic’s economic effect with the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) to cushion the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) impact on households. The ESP consists of cash assistance, utility discount, moratorium, Employee Provident Fund (EPF) cash withdrawals, credit guarantee scheme and wage subsidies. A survey carried out by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) shows that households prefer different types of financial assistance. These preferences forge the need to effectively customise ESPs to manage the economic burden among low-income households. In this study, a recommender system for such ESPs was designed by leveraging data analytics and machine learning techniques. Methods : This study used a dataset from DOSM titled “Effects of COVID-19 on the Economy and Individual - Round 2,” collected from April 10 to April 24, 2020. Cross-Industry Standard Process for Data Mining was followed to develop machine learning models to classify ESP receivers according to their preferred subsidies types. Four machine learning techniques—Decision Tree, Gradient Boosted Tree, Random Forest and Naïve Bayes—were used to build the predictive models for each moratorium, utility discount and EPF and Private Remuneration Scheme (PRS) cash withdrawals subsidies. The best predictive model was selected based on F-score metrics. Results : Among the four machine learning techniques, Gradient Boosted Tree outperformed the rest. This technique predicted the following: moratorium preferences with 93.8% sensitivity, 82.1% precision and 87.6% F-score; utilities discount with 86% sensitivity, 82.1% precision and 84% F-score; and EPF and PRS with 83.6% sensitivity, 81.2% precision and 82.4% F-score. Households that prefer moratorium subsidies did not favour other financial aids except for cash assistance. Conclusion : Findings present machine learning models that can predict individual household preferences from ESP. These models can be used to design customised ESPs that can effectively manage the financial burden of low-income households.
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