Johor groups hope for people-centric Budget 2021

Some say the budget must focus on helping the public and businesses to deal with economic slowdown and loss of income. — filepic

JOHOR BARU: Groups in Johor hope that the Federal Government will focus on weathering the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and providing more people-centric initiatives in Budget 2021, which is being tabled tomorrow.

Yayasan Suria Johor Baru founder James Ho said the government should focus on helping those who had lost their source of income.

“They are in need of immediate financial aid and some of them do not even have enough money to buy food for the whole family and are depending on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Social Welfare Department for help.

“The budget should include an allocation for those going through such difficulty.

“The government should also look into other ways to help the public manage their finances, including extending the moratorium, ” he noted.

He added that the government should also look into channelling financial aid to NGOs who are also getting less public donations because of the pandemic and subsequent movement control order (MCO) to stem its spread.

“During the first few phases of the MCO, we were getting a lot of donations from the public, which we have channelled to those in need.

“However, since June, we have been receiving less donations as our donors are also facing financial problems.

“At the same time, the number of those who need help continues to increase, ” he said, adding that the NGO had been receiving 50% less donations since June compared to last year.

Johor Indian Muslim Entrepreneurs Association (Perusim) secretary Hussein Ibrahim said the budget must focus on helping the public, including businesses, in terms of dealing with economic slowdown and loss of income.

“The unemployment rate has increased because of the pandemic and many people are unable to spend their money at small local businesses.

“As a result, some of these businesses are forced to shut down.

“I believe only eateries and grocery shops stand a chance of surviving longer as people still need to buy from these shops, ” he explained.

He added that the government needed to allocate more money for training and upskilling programmes to help locals who are unable to get employment.

“These programmes should also include guidance on starting their own business, either physically or virtually, ” he said.

He added that the government should also look into giving more incentives for business and companies to hire more locals.

“The wage subsidy scheme that was introduced by the government previously on two occasions was a good initiative and should be continued, ” he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Federation of Hawkers and Petty Traders Associations president Datuk Yow Boon Choon said the budget should also focus on ensuring small businesses were able to continue operations.

“The survival of small businesses is crucial to the country’s economy and it is important for the government to ensure that they are able to continue operating while abiding by the necessary standard operating procedures (SOP).

“Many are still recovering from having to shut down during the initial phases of the MCO, ” he said.

He added that the government should consider providing more aid to businesses that had to shut down at areas where there was a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Johor Doctors Association founder and president Dr Ng Kim Fong said there should be more allocation given to the Health Ministry in its fight against the pandemic.

“Although a lot of allocation has been given to the ministry to combat Covid-19, it is still not enough as we are still in the midst of a battle with the virus.

“Medical frontliners need to have ample personal protection equipment (PPE) and other necessary support, ” he said.

He added that the allocation would also allow the ministry to acquire more medical equipment.

“We do not know how long this would continue or whether we have enough equipment to cater to a sudden spike in the number of cases, especially in rural areas, ” he said.

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