In his special address to the nation earlier today, prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin outlined further relief measures announced by the government under the Perlindungan Ekonomi dan Rakyat Malaysia (Permai) assistance package, which is worth RM15 billion.

On the auto and transport front, there was mention of a one-off financial assistance of RM500 to 118,000 drivers of taxis, school buses, tour buses, rental cars and ride-hailing vehicles as well as 14,000 tourist guides, with an allocation of RM66 million set aside for this.

This is an addition to a similar package announced last year under the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) assistance programme, in which it was reported that 68,336 ride-hailing drivers received the one-off RM500 assistance, while 37,127 taxi and bus drivers received RM600.

Another measure to aid taxi drivers was also announced. At present, the government provides an exemption from excise duty and sales tax for the purpose of the transfer, disposal and for the private use of taxis, provided the vehicle is owned for seven years. To further ease the burden on taxi drivers, the government is reducing the duration of necessary ownership to five years, effective from January 1 to December 31, 2021.

Elsewhere, a bus and taxi hire-purchase rehabilitation scheme is being introduced, in which a 50% guarantee on financing from hire purchase and leasing companies will be provided for taxis as well as selected buses such as sightseeing buses. Through this, bus and taxi operators can restructure their financing and enjoy a 12-month moratorium and lower monthly repayments. The government says a guarantee of RM1 billion will be provided for this purpose.