Categories: EconomyNews

SMEs fear political impasse will delay herd immunity

Businesses do not need govt aid if the administration opens up the economy

by NUR HANANI AZMAN & HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

POLITICAL uncertainties became the latest business risk for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) despite the revocation of the Emergency and easing of Covid-19 curbs.

SME Association of Malaysia national VP Chin Chee Seong said many are worried if a change in government may cause changes to the current policy and standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“Most are those in the services industry like hair salon, beauty salon, Chinese traditional medication services, as (Caretaker) Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said to ease SOPs with the opening of certain sectors for those fully vaccinated.

“We are also worried that herd immunity could be delayed if political issues are not resolved soon,” Chin told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

SMEs fear that political changes will disrupt the healthcare system, vaccination rate and economic recovery.

“We urge all the political parties to take the livelihoods of people into account. Now we are really at the stage where we won’t be able to recover if we don’t have support from the government and Opposition to ease the situation.”

Muhyiddin had announced the reopening of 11 economic sectors in Phase 1 states, as well as the reopening of economic activities based on a company’s vaccination rate.

Echoing the sentiment, Small and Medium Enterprises Association central chairman Datuk William Ng said SMEs are ready to reopen.

“We are already familiar with the general SOPs after 16 months in various versions of lockdowns.

“Many SMEs have had to cancel or delay orders from both local and international buyers due to the current MCO (Movement Control Order) and Phase 1 National Recovery Plan (NRP). We are more than ready to move into Phases 2 and 3,” he told TMR.

He hopes that the various political parties could resolve the current political impasse as soon as possible, as continued political uncertainty is weighing down recovery efforts.

“While SMEs are grateful that some sectors of the economy are gradually being allowed to operate under Phases 2 and 3 of the NRP, we reiterate our call that all sectors be allowed to reopen as soon as possible with very stringent SOPs,” he added.

Association of Wedding Professionals Malaysia president Leticia Hsu said industry players are doing anything they can to survive in this period.

“To date, many are still hanging on, it is not easy just to exit the industry and shut down the company. Currently, most of our members are finding any (possible) ways to earn a living and put food on the table.”

Bumiputera Retailers Organisation president Datuk Wira Ameer Ali Mydin said he suspects the number of cases in the Klang Valley will go down in the next several weeks, which by that time he hopes that the states can go into Phases 2 and 3 of the NRP.

“I think we have to be fair to the government, no doubt infections are also rising but the government has decided to use new criteria. So, since we don’t have the information on the new criteria, it would be very difficult to question the government.

“Most of the cases that we see are from Selangor, of course more people are testing and getting vaccinated. By current standards, Selangor should already have the so-called 40% (threshold) before the end of August,” he told TMR.

During the 64th Laksana report announcement, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the number of new Covid-19 cases with serious symptoms will be used as a new indicator for the transition into Phases 2 and 3 of the NRP.

Tengku Zafrul said this would replace the new cases indicator, using as proxy new hospital admission cases for Covid-19 adapted for Categories 3, 4 and 5.

When asked if businesses have received government aid, Ameer Ali said maybe the smaller SMEs have received assistance, adding that the aid is not enough for businesses to continue to survive.

“It is more than too small giving RM600 or RM1,000 to SMEs, it’s not going to make any difference.

“Of course we are grateful, but more importantly is since we have been vaccinated, let us find our own income. We do not need government aid if they open up the economy,” he explained.

Additionally, Chin said the Delta variant has disrupted the reopening of businesses and affecting people’s confidence.

“The government should look into moving away from the pandemic to implement SOPs for an endemic so that more people can be psychologically ready to accept that the virus is going to stay with us.”

Ameer Ali said new variances are bound to come up, as seen in some countries with the emergence of the Delta Plus variant, but he believes the country cannot be looking at that in reopening the economy.

Zukri

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