KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — A RM500 one-off payment will be given as a token of appreciation to Malaysia’s Ministry of Health (MOH) frontline workers next year.
Delivering his Budget 2021 speech in the Dewan Rakyat on Friday (6 November), Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz said that the payment will be made in addition to the current monthly special allowance they have been receiving since March this year.
The one-off payment is expected to benefit 100,000 medical staff, he said.
Tengku Zafrul added that the monthly special allowance of RM600 will be continued until the COVID-19 pandemic is successfully addressed.
“The Government values the toil and sacrifices of the frontliners in managing this COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
The RM500 one-off payment initiative will be part of an additional RM1 billion to be allocated to COVID-19 mitigation efforts, particularly in preparation for a possible third wave of infections.
The additional RM1 billion will supplement the Government’s spending of RM1.8 billion this year on implementing movement control and public health service needs related to COVID-19, said the minister.
Such needs include the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), reagent and consumables.
Tengku Zafrul said that the extra allocation will encompass the following:
- RM475 million for the purchase of reagent, test kits, and consumables for MOH usage;
- RM318 million to provide PPE and hand sanitisers to MOH frontline staff;
- RM150 million to the the National Disaster Management Agency to coordinate efforts to fight COVID-19; and
- RM50 million for the purchase of equipment, laboratory test supplies, and medicine for university teaching hospitals, as well as to procure equipment required to resume dental services, virtual clinical services. Part of the amount will also be used to prepare preliminary zone facilities and thermometers at health facilities to meet Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
The minister also said that the Government is striving to obtain affordable COVID-19 vaccine supplies, including through participation in the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) programme.
“These COVID-19 vaccine supplies are expected to cost more than RM3 billion to meet the needs of Malaysians,” he said.
Greater tax relief on vaccination expenses for pneumococcal, influenza and COVID-19 will also be part of the Government’s financial plan for COVID-19 mitigation, said Tengku Zafrul.
Each taxpayer, as well as their spouse and child may be eligible for tax relief on such expenses at a cap of RM1,000. This is to encourage Malaysians to adopt vaccination as a preventive measure against the aforementioned illnesses, he said.
The Government, Tengku Zafrul added, will also increase the tax relief limit on medical expenses for individuals, their spouse and child for serious diseases from RM6,000 to RM8,000.
The tax relief limit for expenses on full medical check-ups will also be increased from RM500 to RM1,000 ringgit.
In addition, the limit of tax relief on expenses for medical treatment, special needs and parental care will also be increased from RM5,000 to RM8,000.
Noting that the MOH’s Psychosocial Helpline has received over 35,000 phone calls from March to October this year on issues related to emotional stress, anxiety and depression, Tengku Zafrul said that the Government will also be allocating RM24 million to mental health spending.
This will include strengthening the Mental Health, Violence and Injury Prevention, and Substance Abuse Programmes, he said.