Budget 2021: Bus operators need special aid to survive

by HARIZAH KAMEL / source: Rapid KL Facebook

THE Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association (PMBOA) is asking for special assistance from the government in Budget 2021.

Its president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali said the aid will help alleviate the financial burden faced by bus operators, so that the industry can survive the movement restriction orders.

“For stage bus, we request that all outstanding payments of Interim Stage Bus Support Fund (ISBSF) and Stage Bus Service Transformation (SBST) Scheme funds be paid immediately and unconditionally to operators.

“We also request that full payment be continued for ISBSF and SBST to bus operators during the restriction period to help them pay salaries, rent and other payments even if their buses are not operating,” he said in a statement recently.

He explained that the rationale for the requests is stated in detail in PMBOA’s letter to Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz dated Oct 28, 2020.

Furthermore, he urged for the conversion of all stage buses under ISBSF to SBST and that all contracts for both funds to be extended from two years to five years.

Mohamad Ashfar also listed nine proposals for stage, express, tour, and work buses including establishing a scheme to provide free training courses for those who want to work as a bus or truck driver, as well as tax exemption of import and excise.

Among others, PMBOA requested for capital allowance by the Inland Revenue Board Malaysia to be expedited to reflect the buses’ actual depreciation value.

The association also asked for the allocation of 1% of the RM5 billion Working Capital Guarantee Scheme under the Economic Stimulus Package to be segregated and given to corporate bus operators to help them finance working capital.

“We humbly request for a 75% comprehensive subsidy of our employees’ monthly salary during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period and three months thereafter, as well as a special one-off payment of RM1,000 to bus operators per month during the MCO and three months after the MCO,” he said.

Additionally, they requested for a one-time payment of RM600 to all stage and express bus drivers, as well as the exemption of Puspakom scheduled inspection fee until Dec 31, 2020.

“An exemption or deduction of the Land Public Transport Agency’s operator licence fee and vehicle permit, including other relevant applications for the years 2020/2021 will help reduce the operating costs of bus operators during and after the MCO period,” he added.