JOHOR BARU: Businesses in Johor are hoping that both the Federal and Johor governments will address uncertainties and challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic in Budget 2021.
Iskandar Malaysia Commerce and Industry president Md Salikon Saripin said the negative impact of Covid-19 on businesses, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) was significant.
“It has directly dragged down the overall economic performance of the whole country, ’’ he said when contacted.
Md Salikon said the pandemic had brought changes to the ways of doing business all over the world as companies and employers had to adapt and adopt the new norm.
He said the way forward for businesses was to embrace digitalisation in order to remain relevant in the competitive business world.
“Johor needs better Internet connectivity if it wants to attract multinational corporations and high-technology investments, especially to Iskandar Malaysia, ” he explained.
He said the issue of slow Internet connectivity in Iskandar Malaysia was the main concern for many investors.
He added that Malaysia and Johor would probably lose to other countries in the region namely Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.
Md Salikon hoped the Federal Government would allocate funds in Budget 2021 for the Iskandar Regional Development Authority to further improve Internet infrastructure in the region.
Johor Baru Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry past president Datuk Loh Liam Hiang hoped the Federal and Johor governments would consider giving discounts on quit rent and assessment rate to businesses in Budget 2021.
“This will help us, especially the SMEs, to get through these trying times as nobody knows when the economy will return to pre-Covid-19 levels, ” he said.
Loh said the cost of doing business was escalating and this could be addressed by allocating funds in the upcoming budget.
He said the special low interest loan packages for SMEs should be released via a special financial vehicle to avoid the same situation of banks imposing demanding evaluations on them.
He also hoped that both Malaysia and Singapore could speed up the opening of borders between the two countries but with strict standard operation procedures in place at both sides of the straits.
“The longer the border stays closed, the more dire the economic consequences will be, as Johor and Singapore are economically dependent on each other, ” he stressed.
Power tools and spare parts wholesaler manager Ding De Lin hoped the state government would provide 50% tax reduction on quit rent and assessment rate in Johor Budget 2021.
He concurred with Loh that the border needed to be reopened quickly to boost Johor Baru’s economy.
“Shops and retailers here are suffering from a drop in Singaporean visitors and if the situation persists, many outlets will eventually have to shut down in the coming years, ’’ said Ding.
Food and beverage consultant Aason Wong Wai Hoong said Budget 2021 should provide a salary subsidy scheme for employers, with 50% of the first RM4,000 per local employee for at least a year.
He said in addition, the foreign worker levy for 2021 should be waived and there should be a 50% discount on quit rent and assessment fee.
“We also need more bridging loans and financing schemes to help SMEs with their cash flow in next year’s budget, ” he added.
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