KUALA LUMPUR: The government, through the Royal Malaysian Customs Department, has banned exports of face masks to ensure sufficient supply for Malaysians during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the supply of face masks in the country is currently at an unsatisfactory level, thus the government has decided to import the masks from China.
Speaking at a press conference here today, he said that the local production of face masks has been affected by the inadequate supply of raw materials.
“I am told that the face masks will be imported at about RM1.18 per piece, and we will be distributing these for free to the people who need them,” said Muhyiddin.
On Saturday, the government announced that it will be importing 10 million pieces of face masks from China, to be coordinated by the Transport Ministry.
Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said that priority will be given to the frontliners managing Covid-19 as well as the clinics, Health Ministry offices at the federal and state levels, police, immigration authorities and military personnel working with the frontliners.
Meanwhile, Muhyiddin has also announced the implementation of several initiatives following a meeting with the Economic Action Council (EAC) to ease the burden of those affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
He said that Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributors aged 55 and below are allowed to withdraw from their EPF Account 2 savings by up to a maximum of RM500 a month for 12 months, beginning April 1.
The i-Lestari withdrawal initiative is expected to benefit up to 12 million EPF members, with an estimated total withdrawal of RM40 billion.
The government has also agreed to extend the three-month deferment period for the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan repayments to six months, which is expected to benefit almost 1.5 million PTPTN borrowers.
Additionally, the government has allocated an additional RM600 million to the Healthy Ministry to support the ministry’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, including the recruitment of new staff, especially nurses, on a contract basis.
It has also allocated RM130 million to be distributed to the state governments to assist them in handling the Covid-19 crisis. – Bernama