PETALING JAYA: Business leaders have reacted favourably to proposals by the government to increase spending to overcome the economic and health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin says the government aims to seek Parliamentary approval to increase the Covid-19 fund by RM45bil to RM110bil.
“The improvements will help meet additional needs in overcoming the Covid-19 crisis in terms of strengthening the health system, improving assistance to the people and supporting business continuity,” he said in a nationwide address yesterday.
He says the government also aims to commit RM10bil to assist 11 million people by the second half of this year.
“Cash assistance for those in need will continue in 2022, not only for the bottom 40 group but also covers targeted assistance to the hardcore poor, urban poor and the middle 40 that have lost their income,” he says.
Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai says the FMM has always been an apolitical organisation giving its fullest support and cooperation to the government of the day.
“Having said that, political stability is most crucial given the fragile economic climate with the resurgence of Covid-19 infections to ensure that we are able to tide over this very challenging period to prevent further harm and hardship to the rakyat as well as the business community,” he says.
“The economy, and in particular, the manufacturing sector, must continue to be supported during this critical period which still sees many industries still not operating since mid-May 2021 under phase one of the National Recovery Plan,” he says.
Soh adds that should industries remain closed for too long, it can cause irreparable damage to the economy and even discourage investments, both foreign and domestic.
“Hence, if bi-partisan co-operation can work out and result in a government that is capable of steering the country with competent leadership and good governance, it would be beneficial to the rakyat and the economy,” he says.
SME Association of Malaysia president Michael Kang (pic below) says what businesses want is the stability in government so they can focus on overcoming the pandemic and the recovery of the economy.
“So if politicians can work hand-in-hand and focus on the recovery, that will really help businesses. Then they (politicians) can continue their fight in the general election next year. Otherwise, it’s hard for us to plan for the recovery with all this uncertainty.”
Green Packet Bhd managing director Puan Chan Cheong applauded the Prime Minister’s call for all parties to come together to ensure that Malaysia as a nation puts aside any differences.
“We need to ensure Malaysia gets through the Covid-19 pandemic and thrive as a nation through the concept of shared prosperity for all,” he says.The prospects of finding a common a bi-partisan solution to the challenges faced by the country both economically and politically should also lend support to the stock market, which has slowly been sliced away from the political insecurity.
Rakuten Trade Sdn Bhd head of equity sales Vincent Lau (pic below) said the stock exchange might react positively on Monday, as investors are likely to view this as a step towards resolving the political uncertainty.
Malaysia Palm Oil Association CEO Datuk Nageeb Wahab is looking forward to the political impasse ending so as to create stability and the government can focus on addressing the pandemic and the economic woes.
“The government’s immediate attention and intervention are required on the US Customs and Border’s withhold release order invoked on Malaysian companies as well as Malaysia being relegated to Tier-3 that may affect our future trade with the United States.
“The acute labour shortage too that has resulted in planters’ not realising potential revenues and profits need immediate government attention,” he says.
President of the association of private hospitals Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh says: “We want political stability with a continuous support from a government in order to complete the effort in managing this pandemic inclusive of treating and vaccination.
“Currently we have achieved a very good vaccination rate and hopefully in two months it’s completed. Private hospitals have helped the government to decant almost 1,000 plus patients from public hospitals to provide space for Covid-19 patients.
“We hope at this very difficult times, stability is maintained until the pandemic settles.
“As healthcare providers, we can see the agony people are going through. It’s really disheartening to see how healthcare facilities are not able to cope. The strength and support for the government is so important,” he says.