Extend effective period of Covid Act, industry players say

by AZREEN HANI & LYDIA NATHAN / pic by TMR FILE 

INDUSTRY players have urged the government to extend the effective period of the Temporary Measures for Reducing the Impact of Covid-19 Act 2020 on the inability to perform contractual obligations to beyond June 30, 2021, following the implementation of a nationwide total lockdown from June 1.

The Federation of Manufacturers Malaysia (FMM) also said the act should be expanded to provide provision for relief for manufacturing and other manufacturing related services such as trading or distributorship and logistics which are currently not included.

“If businesses are unassisted by the government, this lockdown could lead to their closure and significant job losses where the numbers could hit one million or more,” FMM president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai (picture) said.

Among others, FMM said the government must give automatic bank loan moratorium for at least three months or more effective June 1 and reinstate the Wage Subsidy Programme (WSP) for all industries for the phases of the lockdown period with RM800-RM1,000 per employee.

It also asked the government to suspend or extend the payment date for all statutory contributions given that operations would be in total lockdown except for the allowable essential economic and services sectors.

Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) also proposed to extend the operations of Act 829 until December 2021 as many businesses and individuals face difficulties to perform contractual obligations.

Apart from requesting for a one-off cash grant between RM600 to RM3,000 for micro businesses, daily wage earners and workers from the informal sector, ACCCIM similarly requested for the WSP and the Human Resources Development Fund levy to be extended.

The chambers also called for mass testing and the inoculation programme to be expedited during the lockdown period.

“Open up the vaccination criteria. Go to the hotspots and vaccinate everyone. Particularly in states and areas with high cases and high population density towns with rising cases need everyone to be vaccinated as soon as possible, and those living in these areas should be allowed to get vaccinated, whatever their age,” it said.

Small and Medium Enterprises Association said the government must quickly put in place urgent assistance for the SMEs.

“Specifically, we are hopeful that the wage subsidy can be continued and extended to the end of 2021, an automatic interest-free moratorium on all bank loans and a reduction in utility charges for all businesses,” it said.

For tourism and hotel industries, on top of financial support to brace through the lockdown period, it also called for the sector to be classified as essential services.

Additionally, it requested for the government to provide a recovery plan for the sector, post-lockdown.

“For hotels, the industry needs to be classified as essential services as it is currently playing a major role for quarantine and for the general public opting for self-isolation after potential exposure, to protect family members especially those in the high risk category,” the Malaysian Association of Hotels CEO Yap Lip Seng said.

He added that now is a good time for the government to take advantage of this lockdown to conduct mass testing and isolate anyone that is infected to break the chain of the community spread.

“The country can move towards the second and third phase of the lockdown soonest possible. Hotels are ready to receive and support the need of low-risk treatment and for quarantine purposes.

The Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (Matta) has called on the government to ensure financial aids such as zero interest loan moratorium until year end and clear strategic plans for the tourism sector’s recovery.

It said it is supporting the proposal made by the Federation of Malaysian Business Associations where a 70% wage subsidy is given for all staff earning less than RM4,000 and a 30% subsidy (capped at RM3,000) for those who earn above RM4,000.

“The key to managing this crisis lies with proper coordination between the government and the private sector to ensure we can get through this with the most minimal impact and painless as possible”, said Matta honourary treasurer Faeez Fadhlillah.