MEF calls for businesses to reopen

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) said the Pakej Perlindungan Rakyat dan Pemulihan Ekonomi (Pemulih) unveiled yesterday would work to provide temporary relief for the rakyat, businesses as well as expedite vaccination programmes.

However, its president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman J.P said the best way to move forward is to reopen businesses, especially in areas with low Covid-19 infection rates.

“We are pleased to see the wage level reduced from RM1,500 to RM1,200 to encourage employment of local workers under Penjanakerjaya 3.0 and the 243,000 jobs created in the first six months of 2021.

“It is also encouraging that the government was on track to create a total 500,000 new jobs this year.

“We also welcome the automatic approval for loan moratoriums, and hope this would be interest-free.

“While we appreciate Pemulih, we find the most effective way to address sustainability issues are by allowing businesses to open quickly,” he said in a statement, yesterday.

Some employers, he said, would benefit from the extended and simplified wage subsidy programme, as well as loan assistance to small and medium enterprises (SME).

“Some would also appreciate the two-month exemption from paying the levy to HRD Corp, especially companies that were not allowed to operate during the Movement Control Order (MCO).

“Employers, however, need to be self-reliant and not depend on one-off handouts as many employers would not qualify for it too”.

“So instead of relying on the assistance, businesses should be allowed to operate in a controlled environment to save jobs and the economy.

“They can operate under strict standard operating procedures (SOP), so we can raise the cash to pay our workers as the continuous lockdown will only destroy us,” he said.

Syed Hussain said there is a need to adopt a holistic targeted public-private sector approach to manage businesses re-operating effectively, especially in areas that record low number of Covid-19 infections.

“For example, businesses in Selangor that are not part of any clusters should be allowed to operate.

“This should be the same in states that have low infection rates and low usage of intensive care unit (ICU) bed such as Terengganu, Perlis and Kedah.

“There is no reason for safe states to still wait for national threshold numbers to improve to reopen for business,” he said.

On vaccination, MEF welcomed the government’s decision to allow employers who had vaccinated their employees to fully operate in the near future.

“We see the scheme in allowing HRDC contributors to use their contributions to pay for their employees’ vaccination as timely.

“However, the limitation of funding up to 10 per cent of the HRDC contributors’ balance may be too little especially for small and medium enterprises,” he said. – NST ONLINE

by Farah Solhi

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