Small businesses fear revenue will further drop due to restriction

JOHOR BARU: Business associations in Johor Baru are appealing to the government to give a little bit of leeway to the businesses in the city, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Many said the restricted movement order would have a huge impact on those who were already having trouble managing their business since the Covid-19 outbreak started.

Johor Indian Business Association chairman P. Sivakumar said the movement control order should have been implemented in phases, as it had not given businesses, especially restaurant owners, time to prepare.“Business has already been bad since this outbreak started and now the government suddenly imposed a restricted movement order that will surely give a huge negative impact.

“Some small business owners are renting their premises from the local council and the rent will still need to be paid although business will not be running starting March 18, ” he said.

Sharing the same concern is Johor Bahru Malay Hawkers, Traders and Small Business Entrepreneurs Association president Abdullah Md Yusof.

He said the government should consider giving incentives to small businesses that had been negatively impacted by the order.

“A majority of us operate at pasar malam but now we have to close shop for 14 days. How will we make ends meet if our main source of income is cut off?

“Generally, the Covid-19 outbreak has reduced our income by about 50%.

“We hope the government will hear our plight, ” he said, adding that the government could help by giving rental discount or waiving the charge for business licences.

Johor Baru Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Low Kueck Shin said although the associations supported the restricted movement order, the government should do something when it is over.

“I am sure that the government has its own expertise in this matter to assess the damage the order had caused to small businesses in the country.

“The main priority is to make sure that this disease does not spread any further and the health of the public is ensured, ” he said.

Malaysian Association of Hotels Johor chapter chairman Ivan Teo said hotels in the state would be severely affected.

“The current order will definitely cripple the service industry. Many of our guests have cancelled reservations and hotel staff have been put on leave.

“Obviously, the industry will suffer a loss, ” he said.

He added that the government should look into ways to reimburse hotel owners during this time of crisis to prevent retrenchment of employees.

Malaysian Budget Hotel Association Johor chapter chairman Jarod Chia gave statistics on the decrease in occupancy seen this year.

“In 2019, our hotels saw an average occupancy rate of 62.50%, But this year, the average rate has dropped to 30.25%, ” he said, adding that the government should provide tax relief to hoteliers.

Johor Lorry Operators’ Association president Novan Hing said the drivers would definitely feel the pinch.

“Construction supplies and non-essential goods will not be hauled and this will reduce the number of jobs for contract drivers, ” he said, adding that it would be difficult to help contract drivers as they do not receive a fixed salary.

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