Incentives should cover all sectors, say bosses

PETALING JAYA: Employers are urging for more incentives for enterprises from all sectors under the newly unveiled fiscal stimulus package instead of those mainly in the travel industry.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said the stimulus package focused more on assisting the tourism and hotel industry when it should have covered businesses across the board.

“It is good that the stimulus package is boosting tourism-related enterprises but the virus outbreak has affected all industries, ” he said in an interview.

One such industry, he added, was the manufacturing sector, which had been affected by disrupted supply chains due to the outbreak in China.

“The exports of their products and goods are also affected and they now have to seek out new markets, ” he said.

He said while it was good that there were incentives to upskill employees and assist retrenched workers, it would have been more effective to introduce measures to help employers in the immediate term.

“For instance, it would be better to help reduce the cost of business by suspending the implementation of the new minimum wage, ” he said.

Lauding the recommendations in the package, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said the export sector was however not given enough prominence.

“The main concern of the manufacturers is the impact of Covid-19 on production which has slowed down due to low supply of raw materials from China, ” he said in a statement.

Some of the raw materials, he said, included moulded and metal press parts, iron and steel products, ingredients for food and beverage production, machinery parts and components, and paper and packaging materials.

“Imports of these raw materials from China are affected as certain cities are currently under lockdown and production has been stopped.

“Similarly, exports to China are affected as most of the customers and importers are still closed due to the Chinese government’s directive, ” he said, adding that these included electrical and electronic products, toiletries and processed food products.

Soh said while there were many initiatives to assist businesses in respect to tax instalments and loans, FMM urged for greater promotion of local products.

“This is to ensure a robust and sustained domestic market demand for Malaysian manufactured products and to promote import substitution, ” he said.

He also urged FMM members to refrain from taking drastic measures that would further stifle the economy and to continue sourcing materials from China or other alternative trade partners.

SME Association of Malaysia president Datuk Michael Kang said the package was not “aggressive” enough and too “conservative”, which would not really bolster the economy.

“The stimulus package should help SMEs overcome cash flow and business problems, and make sure all SMEs can continue their business and not have to lay off staff.”

Kalng said one of the ways was to “zero-rise” the interest rate of the Special Relief loans offered by Bank Negara totalling RM2bil, which is currently set at 3.75%.

The government, he added, should look more into reducing the cost of doing business, such as deferring the move to raise minimum wage.

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