Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) is a financial aid under the Prihatin Rakyat economic stimulus package. It was launched by the government as an economic countermeasure to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin revealed BPN on March 27 as one of the major points in Prihatin Rakyat. The financial aid would be distributed in phases, starting from April 6.
The Ministry of Finance set up the Unit for the Implementation and Coordination of National Agencies on the Economic Stimulus Package (LAKSANA) to the distribution of Prihatin Rakyat.
For BPN distribution, the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) would identify the eligible receivers and the financial aid would directly be deposited into their accounts.
According to media intelligence, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz was seen to be the most active person in addressing BPN from April 3 to April 16, 2020. He revealed that 69% of the economic stimulus package has been implemented as of April 12.
Defense Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob mentioned BPN from time to time as a government initiative in assisting the people, while his main objective in his speeches was to enforce the ongoing Movement Control Order (MCO).
This article will look at some of the interesting highlights of the BPN initiative.
The Finance Minister had also revealed that the financial aid for students under Prihatin Rakyat has extended its coverage.
Form 6 and diploma or other equivalent qualification students are now included in Prihatin Rakyat. A one-off payment worth RM200 for each student would be distributed by the end of April 2020.
Assistance from EPF
Apart from the cash distribution to the public, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) also played a major role in assisting Malaysians through the BPN initiative.
EPF has allowed Malaysians to withdraw their second account in their retirement funds, known as i-Lestari.
EPF had also launched an online facility to smoothen the withdrawal process. One does not need an online EPF account (i-Account) to apply for i-Lestari.
Assistance from BNM
The Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has also enacted two initiatives under Prihatin Rakyat to assist with nation’s economy.
BNM allocated RM5 billion in Special Relief Fund to smoothen the cash flow of business owners. Primarily, the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are in dire need of this assistance. Zafrul revealed that almost 3,000 applications for the aid has been approved by BNM.
Moreover, the central bank offers six-month loan moratorium to SMEs and individuals. It was announced that Malaysians would not need to apply for the assistance as the 0% interest has been set throughout the deferment period.
Looking at of the highlights, the BPN initiative by the government looks promising. The initiative was constructed to help the different segments of the society. With the aid, it is hoped that the burden of the people especially those directly affected by the Covid-19 crisis, would be reduced.