Govt drafting clearer SOPs for businesses

Mida says MITI and its agencies are currently drafting alternatives and refinements to current SOPs governing businesses

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

GOVERNMENT agencies are working together to address concerns by foreign investors on the unpredictable operating environment in Malaysia as a result of prolonged measures to control Covid-19.

Foreign business groups have appealed for clarity in how businesses are supposed to operate during several iterations of the Movement Control Order (MCO) that has caused an uncertain operating environment as the country grapples with a recent surge in infections that threatens to overwhelm its healthcare infrastructure as well as wreak havoc on the economy.

In response to several letters from foreign business groups, the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) said the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and its agencies are currently drafting alternatives and refinements to current standard operating procedures (SOPs) governing businesses.

Mida told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that these recommendations are expected to be presented for approval to the National Security Council, which oversees and directs all Covid restrictions. including the MCOs.

“The issues mentioned are being actively looked into and monitored by MITI and its agencies.

“Several workable mechanisms are being negotiated to be presented to NSC,” Mida said in an email reply to TMR.

In separate letters addressed to Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, foreign business groups called for the government to provide clarity on the SOPs, which have caused confusion among the business community.

The letters sighted were by the Japanese Chamber of Trade and Industry Malaysia (Jactim), which was signed together by the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) as well as the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Malaysian Dutch Business Council.

Earlier, a letter was sent by the Malaysian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MGCC).

When contacted, MGCC said the chamber has been working with the government to smooth out setbacks related to trade amid the pandemic.

“The Malaysian-German Chamber is regularly in touch with ministries and authorities to communicate regarding trade matters, especially in times of crisis,” MGCC told TMR when asked to comment on a letter addressed to the PM recently.

Among others, the MGCC reiterated its call for consistent enforcement and better clarity on SOPs, while giving two examples of its members who had faced problems with the authorities regarding business operations.

The MGCC also expressed concerns about the disrupted supplied chain and the threat to the job securities and livelihoods of the expatriates and their families who reside in Malaysia.

Japanese business groups Jactim and Jetro asked the government to speed up vaccination for industrial workers in Selangor as 40% or 650 Japanese companies out of the 1,500 based in Malaysia are located in the state and are being severely impacted by the stricter Enhanced MCO.

The business groups said companies will require a long period of time to resume production lines and recover after being halted completely during the lockdown period while in the worst-case scenario, they would not be able to resume at all.

The Japanese business groups also requested for the operations of the automotive and steel industries to be resumed as the automotive production is not just confined to the domestic market but is also part of the Asean supply chain.

The group said the effect of further disruption will linger for the long term as the iron and steel industry is one of the main suppliers to the electronics and electrical industry.