Malaysia plans extra $4.8 billion for special COVID-19 fund

FILE PHOTO: A general view of a business district in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia September 15, 2020. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia’s government plans to add a further 20 billion ringgit ($4.84 billion) to a new fund to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz said on Friday.

The move will increase the size of the COVID-19 fund to 65 billion ringgit to fund aid packages, the needs of frontline workers, and the procurement of vaccines, Tengku Zafrul said as he presented the 2021 budget.

The budget is the first by the administration of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who took over in March just as the pandemic took hold.

The premier also faces the challenge of securing enough support for the budget when it comes up for a vote in parliament on Nov. 25, amid a leadership challenge and cracks in his ruling coalition.

($1 = 4.1340 ringgit)

Reporting by Joseph Sipalan, A. Ananthalakshmi and Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Gareth Jones and Kim Coghill