Retailers upset govt not addressing business, employment situation

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 28 Mar 2020

PETALING JAYA: Retailers are upset that the economic stimulus package announced on Friday did not address the issues of business sustainability and employment security.

The Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA) said while a temporary lifeline had been extended to the B40 and some M40 group, the government should step in and help businesses by funding workers’ wages.

“Many countries around the world are supporting businesses by subsidising employers with their workers’ salaries and wages.

“Singapore is funding 75% of the workers’ wages and the United Kingdom 80% so that they are still on the payroll while being told not to come to the office.

“The Malaysian government should do the same and fund 80% of the monthly salary of employees during the movement control order (MCO) period, to be capped at RM1,500 per month, which is the median wage of our country.

“It should be made available to all companies regardless of size and with minimal qualifying conditions, ” it said in a statement on Saturday (March 28).

It stressed that was important to save jobs.

With the extension of the MCO to April 14, MRA said the government should consider the difficulties of businesses, particularly in the retail sector, small-medium enterprises and companies that were providing employment to six million people.

Many companies were not able to operate and had zero sales revenue, but still had to cover fixed running costs like rent, utilities and workers’ salaries and wages.

“Some of our members experienced a 90% drop in sales revenue due to the lockdown, while some of them are expecting a near-total loss in business.

“How are businesses, big or small going to survive?” it asked.

It said the government should have “encouraged” instead of making it compulsory for employers to pay full workers’ salaries during the MCO period.

MRA said discretionary power should be given to the employer depending on their ability to pay.

On top of the measures announced in the economic stimulus package, MRA called for some tweaks to help businesses, including halting Socso contribution for six months from April and exempting the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) contribution for a year instead of six months.

It also called for the deferment of income tax installment for all companies for six months and the waiver of assessment and quit rent for commercial properties for six months.

MRA also said the government should offer a 30% discount on electricity bill for commercial users for six months beginning April.

“It is important to save lives, and we also need to save jobs by saving businesses and companies. Help them with cash flow and costs.

“We appeal to the government to show that you are behind us, the businesses.

"Otherwise, many are on the verge of closing down, ” it added.

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