Saturday, 04 Jul 2020
BUSINESS
29/06/2020 12:58 PM

By Siti Radziah Hamzah

KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 -- Peninsular Malaysia is among the foremost beneficiaries of government measures to overcome the economic downturn due to COVID-19, in particular the highest rebate for electricity bills covering several sectors and all households in Southeast Asia and the world.

The rebates, which were announced by the government, were intended to ease the burden of Malaysians, especially during the movement control order (MCO) caused by the pandemic.

The discounts on TNB's electricity bills covering all households in Peninsular Malaysia under the economic stimulus package (PRE2020) was announced on March 27 by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

In the PRE2020, the business category affected by COVID-19, especially the tourism sector, receives a 15 per cent discount for electricity usage for six months from April 1 until Sept 30, 2020.

The discounts includes the allocation of RM500 million to provide the discount for the tourism sector, followed by a 2.0 per cent discount for the commercial, industrial and agriculture sectors, as well as all households in Peninsular Malaysia.

The government also announced discounts of between 15 per cent and 50 per cent under a tiered discount rate based on electricity usage, up to a limit of 600 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month or RM231.80 per month in the case of residential buildings.

An additional assistance package was also provided by the government, together with TNB, to all domestic customers in the form of free electricity up to RM77 per month, equivalent to the first 300 kWh electricity usage for three months during the MCO from April 2020 to June 2020. 

Besides that, domestic customers, who use their electricity between 601 and 900 kWh per month, will enjoy a 10 per cent discount from April 2020 to September 2020, which is an additional 8.0 per cent on top of the existing 2.0 per cent discount rate that they are current enjoying. 

Furthermore, customers who encounter financial hardship may also engage with TNB to establish feasible a payment plan post-MCO. 

Comparatively to other Southeast Asian countries, the Singapore government is offering all households with at least one Singaporean member will receive a one-off SG$100 to cover their utility bills, while the Thai government is providing an automatic three per cent discount to eight types of users to their power bill between April and June.

Meanwhile, nearly 30 million Vietnamese affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have received a 10 per cent discount on their utility bills.

The Philippines government has allowed households consuming up to 200 kWh monthly to settle their bills through installment packages for up to four months, and while banks, as well firms that provide water, cellular and internet bills have adjusted their payments.   

Similarly, South Korea's state-run Korea Electric Power Corp is deferring electricity bill payments for small businesses and under underprivileged families struggling from the pandemic.

Meanwhile the United States, which is hugely impacted by COVID-19, is assisting low-income districts through the Utility Discount Programme (UDP) to reduce their utility cost.

Under the UDP, consumers could receive discounts of up to US$475 per year on electricity bills or US$300 per year if they do not have electricity heat; up to US$276 during the winter season on gas bills; as well as over US$400 annually on water and sewer bills. 

-- BERNAMA

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