News | Struggling SMEs want single-dose staff back at work

PETALING JAYA: SME bosses are pleading to the government to allow people who have received their first vaccine dose to return to work to prevent the collapse of their firms.

SME Association president Michael Kang said that about 25% of small and medium enterprises have closed for good since the mid-year lockdown with more likely to follow suit.

“We cannot be waiting for companies to fulfil the requirement to resume operations, which is that 80% of their staff are fully vaccinated. Those who have received their first dose should be allowed to work or open businesses,” he told FMT.

For those with one dose, he said bosses are willing to cooperate and check their workers’ MySejahtera application daily to ensure they are not “loitering everywhere”.

Those who have not been fully vaccinated should only be allowed to work, and buy food and groceries. This way, workplaces will be safer, he added.

“Those who defy the movement rules should not be allowed to come in to work,” he said, adding that enforcement officers can conduct spot checks to ensure that SOPs are being followed.

“We need to look at all angles so that SMEs can restart their businesses. We need to find ways to help them earn their incomes, not close their businesses for such a long time.”

The government has to understand that industries are anxious as they can no longer pay wages and rents, he added. “Some are struggling with debts to the point of no return.”

Once SMEs are allowed to open, Putrajaya should introduce a standard set of simple SOPs for all states. “No more different guidelines for different states. It’s confusing. It’s a big problem for us. Please introduce standard SOPs nationwide so we can implement them better and avoid summonses,” he said.

Some enforcement officers have even told them that they are confused over the different SOPs, causing them to issue summonses when they should not, he added.

The only way forward, he said, was for everyone to be disciplined and work together to get the economy running again.

“We need to learn to live under the new norm,” he added.

In July, former entrepreneur, development and cooperatives minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said up to 580,000 businesses — representing 49% of the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector — are at risk of closing down by October.

Wan Junaidi had said that Malaysia’s micro and SME sector, which accounts for close to 40% of the country’s GDP, is on the brink of collapse should the current nationwide lockdown continue. – FMT

by Minderjeet Kaur

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