Leadership change sparks worry on govt projects’ review

More construction industry players are preparing to resume operation as it is more vital for construction businesses to ensure survivability


LOCALS are worried about the tendered government projects at the final stage or work completed at 10% as the projects may be reviewed again by the new Cabinet line-up.

Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) president Tan Sri Sufri Mhd Zin (picture) said at the moment, more construction industry players are preparing to resume operation as it is more vital for construction businesses to ensure survivability.

“The political instability should not be prolonged as it may affect future investments from foreign countries for the development of infrastructure in the country,” he told The Malaysian Reserve recently.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM) local businesses remain pessimistic for their business condition in the third quarter of the year (3Q21) amid Covid resurgence nationwide.

The department said in its Business Tendency Report that the confidence indicator further dipped to -21.3% in the reference quarter as against -3.1% in the preceding quarter.

“Within the sectors covered, all sectors anticipate unfavourable business conditions for 3Q21 in light of severe and prolonged Covid-19 pandemic in this country,” chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said in a statement yesterday.

“The confidence indicator of the wholesale and retail trade sector plunge to a negative trajectory with -39.4% compared to 5.6% in 2Q21 due to both subsectors namely wholesale trade and retail trade are less confident towards their business situation in the next three months,” he added.

Meanwhile, MBAM welcomed the government’s announcement that all non-essential industries including construction are allowed to operate again starting Aug 16, 2021, depending on the complete vaccination rate of workers.

The announcement was made at a critical time for the construction industry as MBAM is ensuring more workers to be vaccinated.

“However, we hope that a detailed and updated construction standard operating procedures (SOPs) will be released soon as we are still unsure about certain requirements to resume operation.

“Some of the concerns raised are as follows: What type of RTK Antigen tests are required and if self-test kits are allowed? Who can conduct the RTK Antigen tests?” he said.

Sufri also said the frequency of RTK Antigen tests that are required to be done every two weeks with the cost fully borne by employers.

“For contractors who fulfilled all the criteria as announced, there is some confusion on the requirement of a new application to obtain approval to operate.

“It is crucial for construction players to know what the latest requirements are to make sufficient preparation,” he said.

MBAM calls upon the government to immediately direct all enforcement agencies to adopt a consultative approach for at least two weeks instead of giving fine or stop-work orders to contractors who may have oversight of some requirements.

Sufri said an adequate amount of time should be given to contractors to adapt to the new guideline.

“As for the periodic RTK Antigen test, contractors could only afford the tests once in every quarter. Having to do the test bi-weekly on all employees and workers is going to incur a substantial increment in the SOPs compliance cost.

“Currently, contractors are already bearing all the additional costs that were not factor in during the project costing stage,” he said.

Sufri stressed that if the government requires the industry to do more frequent tests than once every three months, the government would need to provide subsidies to ease the burden of contractors.

“As much as we understand the need to make certain our workforce is safe, employers are hitting the wall trying to be financially sustainable and ensure business continuity. We really hope that the government could relook into the frequency of doing the RTK Antigen tests.

“We also hope that the full supply chain of the construction industry which includes suppliers of building materials and professional services or consultants will be allowed to work once they meet the vaccination requirement,” he said.