Concerned investors offer to help speed up laggard vaccination rate

MGCC says allow the private sector to support vaccination efforts at their own costs, which will save public funds necessary for recovery


MALAYSIAN-GERMAN Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MGCC) said it is vital for the vaccination rate to be increased as some investors have expressed concern the herd immunity may only be achieved in mid-2022.

MGCC CEO Daniel Bernbeck told The Malaysian Reserve its members are seeing an average turnover of between 30% and 50% of the norm prior to the pandemic.

“Our members are afraid that the herd immunity in Malaysia will only be achieved by mid-2022, which would hold back any immediate economic recovery plan. Increase the number of vaccinations from below 80,000 to 400,000 per day in order to achieve herd immunity in 2021 instead of 2022,” he said.

“Speed up the permission of vaccine procurement by private hospitals and industries to allow the private sector to support the efforts. They can do that at their own costs (based on international and not marked-up prices) which will save public funds necessary for recovery,” Bernbeck added.

“It’s also unfortunate that we are seeing a dramatic lack of adherence to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in many parts of the country.”

Malaysia, he said, should ramp up Covid-19 testing to the promised 150,000 tests per day or to more areas nationwide to identify the clusters, isolate those infected and stop the invisible spread of the virus.

The country is struggling heavily with inadequate numbers of tests nationwide, while Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said up to 150,000 doses of vaccine will be administered by the end of this month.

Bernbeck noted some sectors are better than others such as semiconductor and logistics, but the majority are struggling or have given up completely.

“What we have seen is a significant increase in processing time with Immigration and Expatriate Services Division due to working from home.

“There have been a lot of times where our members have to wait for up to three months to get an approval, and then another two to three months to get a date for stamping in their passport (so-called endorsement),” he said.

Other than that, he said MGCC sometimes gets the impression that rejections to its applications are done to “clear the backlog”, as there are usually no reasons given for the rejection, but a re-application (or the third time application) with unchanged documents would somehow get approved.

“This is a frustrating experience for our investors and employers in Malaysia, and does not help Malaysia keep its competitive edge over other neighbouring companies.”

He said over 90% have suffered negative effects on their business model due to substantial cost increases (for example for shipping expenses), issues with maintaining a good supply chain and unstable commodity prices (such as steel and iron).

“There are also companies that are suffering from the lack of migrant workers in Malaysia, while others are severely impacted due to lack of international travel (airlines, hotels and travel agencies) which affects foreign investments.

“The supply chains have shifted dramatically towards China and the US. Europe is only slowly getting out of the pandemic. South Asia and South-East Asia are still in the middle of the third or fourth wave,” he stressed.

The EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Eurocham Malaysia) said it strongly believes in the acceleration of the vaccination programme and swiftly implementing public-private partnership model for vaccination procurement and delivery currently in discussion.

“The whole business community is willing to contribute and assist in accelerating the vaccination programme as much as possible.

“Eurocham Malaysia and the business community in Malaysia are committed to flattening the curve and fighting the pandemic together with the Malaysian people and government,” it said in a statement.

Eurocham Malaysia constantly enhances its communication efforts with European Union (EU) industry players to ensure that all SOPs have been understood by its members and thereby enabling them to fully comply.

“Furthermore, companies continue to update and improve on their internal SOPs and communication with the respective Health Departments to ensure that the industry plays a positive and constructive role in breaking the chain for the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved.

“Many companies are encouraging their employees to consider signing up for vaccination and are part of promoting the vaccination programme of the government,” it said.