FMM opposes total lockdown on fears of irreparable damage to economy, while Cuepacs favour a 21-day full-scale MCO to avert healthcare meltdown
by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
PLAYERS in the manufacturing industry are not in favour of a total lockdown, which is being called for in Selangor, as it will cost irreparable damage to the economy.
The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said although the first Movement Control Order (MCO) from March 18 to May 3 last year and MCO 2.0 from Jan 13 to Feb 18 this year had effectively brought down the daily number of new Covid-19 infections, they had a damaging impact on the economy.
“The impact of MCO 1.0, which was an almost full lockdown where only essential services were allowed to operate at 50% capacity, was very severe on the economy, resulting in a drop in GDP to -17.1% in the second quarter of 2020 and loss of jobs hitting 826,100 in May 2020.
“The government had to pump in various financial aids to help the industries, as well as individuals, to wade through this unprecedented pandemic situation, without which many businesses would have had to fold their operations,” he said in a statement yesterday.
In this regard, FMM urged the government not to institute any form of a total lockdown and continue with the MCO 2.0 model to allow economic sectors to operate, but institute stricter standard operating procedures (SOPs) such as rescheduling work shifts in plants.
FMM also urged the government to continue with the necessary aid to assist industries, including financial aid such as the loan moratorium, wage subsidy programme, financing assistance, reduction in business cost such as utility costs, statutory contributions and financing rates.
Lastly, FMM called for the acceleration of the immunisation programme for the economic sectors.
On the other hand, the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) suggested the implementation of a full-scale MCO nationwide for at least 21 days.
Its president Adnan Mat said this is in view of the current situation where the country’s health service is overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients, while also tending to other patients.
“Twenty-one days is the minimum period which would allow the spread of Covid-19 to be curbed effectively.
“If the government continues to use the current SOPs, we are worried that the country’s health services will become paralysed, thus inviting a grave health emergency to the country,” he said in a statement yesterday.
He said the SOPs implemented in MCO 2.0 and now in MCO 3.0 are ineffective in reducing infections, and the increasing number of cases is due to lenient movements among the public for the sake of economic interests.
The community is also not fully complying due to the ever-changing and non-uniform SOPs, which have confused the people. “It is even more unfortunate that Enhanced MCO in high-risk areas are announced in advance, giving people the opportunity to flee the area, which could bring the virus into other areas.”
Adnan added that the lax MCO 3.0 is hurting the people more than the full-scale MCO 1.0.
Coupled with the current spread of the African and Indian variants, he believed that a full-scale MCO can bring the country back on track in flattening the wave of Covid-19 transmission.
Concurrently, Cuepacs urged the ministries responsible for controlling the price of daily necessities to ensure that no party takes advantage of the MCO by manipulating prices, and that financial assistance is provided to affected households.
Adnan suggested that banks re-implement full moratorium on all borrowers for three months to reduce the economic impact on individuals and organisations.
With yesterday’s new daily cases recording a very alarming figure of 6,075 infections, Adnan observed that the pandemic is posing great challenges, especially to civil servants who work at the forefront as health practitioners, as well as other agencies.
He added that doctors and health workers have been on call at all times for over a year now, causing an imbalance between life and work which leads to serious stress physically and mentally.