Govt urged to look into predicament of money changers

  • Metro News
  • Wednesday, 25 Mar 2020

Munower says most licensed money changers in Penang reported up to an 80% drop in business due to the coronavirus outbreak. — Bernama

THE Penang Muslim Jewellers and Money Changers Association is urging the government to look into the plight of the Money Service Business (MSB) as businesses are badly affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The association is hoping that the association could be included in the disbursement of the Special Relief Fund and that the financial sector could provide access to financial products for the industry members.

Association vice-president Munower Sadiq said the licensed money changers (LMC) industry is highly dependent on tourism, both inbound and outbound as a main source of its business revenue.

“With virtually no or extremely limited outbound travel or inbound travel happening, the industry is suffering.

“As we all know, the tourism industry is totally paralysed and the popular outbound or inbound travel destinations like Thailand, Indonesia, China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, India, Saudi Arabia, Australia and many other countries are all closed for travellers, or allowing limited travel only.

“All these countries represent a major share of the market for the LMCs.

“With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, tourism has been badly affected in Malaysia, thereby greatly affecting the income of the LMCs.

“Most members report up to an 80% drop in business,” he said during an economy briefing and press conference at the association building in George Town recently.

Munower added that since the association’s inception in 1976, there had not been a dramatic drop in business.

“Our members and the total industry itself have seen the economy recession in 1987, economy crash in 1997 and financial meltdown in 2008.

“Business scenarios in previous occasions are nowhere near to the current situation which is already causing fear among the players in the industry.

“The business and economic conditions are in uncharted territory now.

“While the business has been steadily dropping since January 2020, the operating cost has remained persistently high and, in some cases, increased due to regulatory ruling implementation causing the business to spend more on system enhancement and other non-business resources,” he said.

Meanwhile, Munower said the LMC industry is a highly regulated and strictly monitored industry by the government, with dozens of regulations, guidelines and reporting requirements for LMCs to follow and abide by.

“The association is disappointed that the industry is still being classified as a high-risk category by financial industry players like banks.

“The association also feels that this industry has been overlooked and not mentioned or included in the Special Relief Fund announced recently.

“This exclusion denies access to financing options to LMCs that are in dire economic situations, like now,” he said.

He noted that the relevant authorities, departments and ministries should include the money-changing industry which is now known as MSB, to be included in any scheme or programme announced now or in the near future.

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