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Malaysia announces $58-billion stimulus package to cushion impact of coronavirus

Police officers stand guard at an entrance of a market, during the movement control order due to the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia announced a stimulus package worth 250 billion ringgit ($58.28 billion) on Friday, its second in a month, to help cushion the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of confirmed infections in Malaysia has doubled this week to over 2,000, the highest in Southeast Asia, with 23 deaths. The government has extended curbs on travel and movement until April 14 in an attempt to contain its spread.

"We are a nation at war with invisible forces. The situation we are now facing is unprecedented in history," Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin Muhyiddin said in a televised address to announce the support package.

"This unprecedented situation of course requires unprecedented measures. So, my dear brothers and sisters, and the children of this beloved country... please bear with me and my friends in the cabinet and the government."

The new package largely includes one-off payments and discounts on utilities for people whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic, and to help small and medium-sized enterprises stay afloat and retain their staff.

The government will also set up a 50 billion ringgit loan scheme for larger companies, which will offer guarantees of up to 80% of the sum borrowed to shore up working capital in the corporate sector.

About 128 billion ringgit will be spent on public welfare measures, with 100 billion used to support businesses.

The package is in addition to a 20 billion ringgit stimulus plan announced last month.


($1=4.2900 ringgit)


(Reporting by Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Kim Coghill)