KUALA LUMPUR, 30 March 2020 – The Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) today called on the Government to enhance the support for businesses that are suffering from the current restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the Chamber welcomed the introduction of the Prihatin package as announced by the Prime Minister as a first step towards a fiscal approach to manage the country’s immediate situation and post Movement Control Order, it cautioned that it was imbalanced between the support to employees and employers .
“We believe that the Prihatin package though rakyat-centric, is missing the mark, as businesses, especially the SMEs (goose), are the largest employers of the rakyat and the largest tax contributors to the country. Cash handouts (eggs) are only good for the moment but the rakyat needs continuous and secured employment as well as income beyond 3 months. Deferment of loans and financial obligations of the rakyat is merely delaying the inevitable.”
Datuk Tan Cheng Kiat, MICCI President
He said the survival of businesses is the key that ultimately leads to economic resilience and employment sustainability.
“The government should provide a more effective stimulus package to businesses instead of unsustainable ones. Bottomline, what is needed is to ensure that businesses being the engines of the economy, driver of growth and providers of employment survive this current crisis. If not it benefits no one.
“We urge the Government – protect the goose that lays the eggs, feed it to ensure it continues to lay eggs,” he added.
“The Prime Minister has stated that the no one will be left behind and it really has to cover the whole chain within the economy. If businesses falter, everyone will be left behind,” he continued.
Tan added that the Government could adopt wage subsidy measures that have announced in countries such as Singapore, Germany, Canada and UK where the balance between employees and employers are taken into account.
Tan also said that MICCI had earlier provided feedback to the Government on 17th March 2020 raising concerns that consistency was needed for approvals to operate and including entire supply chains that have been impacted.
For the approved to operate companies, the MICCI also proposed to allow replacement workers to replace absenteeism and/or changes in the production plans from the original list of workers submitted for approval.
The MICCI calls on the Government to consult the chambers or business associations who are at ground level, in the policy development process, especially during this critical period.