Govt unveils programme to minimise Covid disruptions

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE government’s new [email protected] mechanism to minimise disruptions to manufacturing operations during the Covid-19 pandemic will need a high level of self-regulation, said International Trade and Industry Minister (MITI) Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (picture).

MITI will establish a bubble mechanism to ensure a safe environment for workers during the pandemic. The mechanism will allow companies to continue operations instead of shutting down after an outbreak is detected.

Azmin said employers can join the [email protected] programme to allow workers who are close contacts with Covid-19 patients to be isolated in separate accommodation if they can demonstrate a high degree of compliance with conditions.

The programme will only be applicable for players in the manufacturing sector, which contributed 58.1%, or 194 clusters, of Covid-19 cases at workplace, Azmin said.

“This initiative is to prevent disruption to company operations and reduce the adverse impact on productivity in the event of an occurrence of a positive case of Covid-19 in business premises.

“Commitment and support from employers are crucial in ensuring the safety and health of employees. This effort is very important in order to contribute to the continuation of economic activity,” Azmin told the press in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Under the programme, the company must have dedicated Covid-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Team that will prepare, implement and audit safe work processes.

Taking into account the last 12 months of experience in handling Covid-19 cases, Azmin said it is high time to empower the public, including the employers in managing work related to the pandemic so that Malaysia can escape the crisis quicker.

“After one year of managing this pandemic, we should be able to manage the situation. Not only the government but the people and the industry,” Azmin said.

[email protected] is one of 20 initiatives announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Wednesday under the latest Strategic Programme to Empower the People and Economy stimulus.

As an incentive to companies implementing [email protected], the government will provide up to RM5,000 tax deductions for hostel rentals and equipment under the manufacturing and related services sector.

Azmin added that employers should not hesitate to invest in extra accommodation as the government is providing the tax facilities.

“This is better because their operations can still continue. But they must ensure the bubble is maintained between the hostels and the workplace for the affected staff.”

Other elements that must be prepared by the business owners are continuous sanitisation programmes at the premises, provision of conducive staff accommodations, and targeted screening processes of employees on-site.

Going forward, Azmin said the government will consider the construction sector for inclusion into the programme, as construction sites also contributed to a large number of clusters of Covid-19 cases.

“We were approached by the Works Ministry and they are quite keen to participate in this scheme, but we are focusing on the manufacturing sector for now.

“I believe once we embark on the system on April 1, and we have industry to come in and support this initiative, then we can extend this system to the construction industry,” he added.

Meanwhile, Azmin said the Cabinet is expected to review the new investment policy for direct investments soon.

The revised policy is to better facilitate investors to invest in Malaysia amid the Covid-19 disruption.

“After more than a year without a trade mission, I am expected to go to Japan and South Korea for a trade mission and will present them the new policy,” he added.

On another note, Azmin said the Asean economic ministers are still deliberating on the establishment of a common digital vaccine certificate.

He said there is no conclusion made on the proposal yet, as Asean members are concerned about the different types of vaccines being used among the members in the country. Hence, it is difficult to establish a common certificate.

“Our proposal was for the health authorities of each country to meet up and discuss this matter as soon as possible,” Azmin said.

The digital certificate is expected to ease the restrictions of movement among the Asean states and help the recovery of sectors hit by Covid-19 such as the tourism industry, he said.


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