KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 6 —The government has allocated RM3 billion next year to purchase Covid-19 vaccines, including sourcing them from global coronavirus vaccine access plan COVAX.
The government is also offering pharmaceutical manufacturers, including companies which produce vaccines, especially for Covid-19, an income tax rate of between 0 and 10 per cent for the first 10 years.
“The war is not over until and unless an affordable and accessible vaccine is available,” Finance Minister Senator Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz announced today when tabling Budget 2021.
He added that four glove companies — Top Glove, Hartalega, Supermax, and Kossan — have expressed commitment to contributing RM400 million in the Covid-19 fight, including covering part of the cost of procuring a vaccine and medical equipment.
“The government appreciates the commitment of the private sector, NGOs (non-government organisations), and individuals in contributing together in a joint effort.”
The government will also strengthen the Ministry of Health’s off-take agreement programme to attract investments into the country for the production of vaccines, medicines, and medical devices.
In next year’s budget, the government has allocated RM100 million from Prihatin Sukuk prescriptions to do research on infectious diseases, covering vaccine development, as well as medical and diagnostic research.
For Budget 2021, the government has also allocated RM90 million for a pneumococcal immunisation programme that is estimated to benefit 500,000 children. In the 2020 budget, the government previously allocated RM60 million for pneumococcal vaccination.
Besides that, to encourage the public to get vaccinated against infectious diseases like pneumococcal infection, influenza, and Covid-19, the government has decided to expand the scope of tax relief on vaccination, which will be benefitted by individuals, their spouses, and children, limited to RM1,000.
The finance minister also announced that the government will increase the tax relief for medical care expenses for serious illnesses from RM6,000 to RM8,000, and also an increase of tax relief to RM1,000 from RM500 for medical check-ups. This applies to individuals, their spouses, and children.
In addition, the government will also increase tax reliefs for medical expenses, special care needs, and parental care from RM5,000 to RM8,000.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has received feedback that mental health problems are one of the serious issues faced by the public.
The Ministry of Health’s psychosocial hotlines had received over 35,000 calls from the public from March till October 2020 to seek help regarding issues like stress,worries, and depression, said Tengku Zafrul.
Hence, the government has decided to allocate RM24 million to help overcome mental health issues by strengthening the government programme, “Program Kesihatan Mental, Pencegahan Keganasan dan Kecederaan serta Penyalahgunaan Substans.”
The government has also allocated RM6 million in Budget 2021 on the procurement of biologics for rheumatological diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis.
The government will further allocate RM25 million on peritoneal dialysis home treatment to reduce waiting time and congestion in hospitals.