PETALING JAYA: The government should set up funds to assist businesses affected by the Covid-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak, says the Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Malaysia (ACCCIM).
The chamber said a survey among its members showed that 82.1% out of the 331 respondents projected sales between January and March this year would be badly affected.
“In addition, 42.4% of respondents anticipated sales will drop by more than 20%. Tourism-related businesses will be the hardest hit with more than half (55.2%) expecting sales to plunge by more than 20%, ” it said in a statement.
ACCCIM said the outbreak, should it prolong for six months, could bring down sales by more than 30% for 84.5% of the respondents.
“We call upon the government to set up a Tourism Relief Fund to assist affected tourism players.
“These include helping to cover health preventive and cleaning costs of hotels and restaurants, as well as places of interest, ” it said.
The chamber also proposed a Business Disruption Relief Fund to assist affected small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to obtain financing at a concessionary rate from any commercial bank, Islamic bank and development financial institution regulated by Bank Negara.
It said the government could look into giving tax relief and allowance for SMEs and hospitality sector, including tour operators and agencies.
“This can include raising budget hotels’ revenue threshold subjected to the Sales and Service Tax from RM500,000 to RM1.5mil, similar to food and beverage businesses, to ease their operating cost burden.
“We are confident in the government’s ability to deal with the outbreak and would provide full support to counteract the temporary economic disruptions, ” it added.
On another matter, ACCCIM said its think tank – the Socio-Economic Research Centre – along with Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman had completed a report titled Economic Revitalisation Plan.
“The plan is aimed at identifying the drivers and opportunities of exports, challenges and barriers of international trade and provide policy recommendations and strategies to regain the dynamism of Malaysian exports and increase its contribution to overall economic growth, ” it added.
ACCCIM said it would submit a copy of the report to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and ministers Lim Guan Eng (Finance), Datuk Seri Azmin Ali (Economic Affairs) and Datuk Darell Leiking (International Trade and Industry).
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