KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia is expected to spend R 8 billion ($ 1.95 billion) on fuel and cooking oil subsidies this year, more than double the RM 3.78 billion originally allocated , announced the Ministry of Finance on Saturday June 12.

The announcement comes as Malaysia seeks to step up public aid measures amid new coronavirus lockdowns imposed this month.

The costs of subsidies for retail fuel and cooking oil are expected to rise sharply due to the global rise in commodity prices, Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz said in a statement.

“The government is ready to bear the expense of higher subsidies to preserve the welfare of the people and the viability of business, especially for small traders,” said Tengku Zafrul.

The government spent 6.32 billion ringgit and 2.16 billion ringgit on grants in 2019 and 2020 respectively, he said.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin last month announced an additional $ 9.7 billion stimulus package, ahead of the latest round of lockdowns.

Daily infections and deaths in the Southeast Asian country reached record levels in May, although cases have declined in recent days.

Malaysia reported 5,793 new cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of infections to 652,204. The death toll stood at 3,768 on Friday.

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