PETALING JAYA: The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong) has proposed the government to reduce the interest rates of personal and corporate loans, to better assist the people and business sector to pull through the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and movement control order (MCO).
Its president Tan Sri TC Goh (pic) said that aside from providing financial aid to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the government should also pay attention and provide necessary assistance to big corporations and foreign investors adversely affected by the MCO.
“The government must also pay due attention to employers and companies which are facing serious cash-flow or financial problem as, they might have opted out of the ‘Wage Subsidy Scheme’ so as to lay off workers or to subject them to a pay-cut, in a desperate move to stay afloat, ” he said.
In a statement issued on Sunday (April 20), Goh noted that Huazong has, over the days, continued to gather feedback from its member associations, the Chinese community and various quarters, on the devastating economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the MCO, and has compiled them into a 35-point proposal for the government’s consideration.
He also thanked the government for its positive response to a series of feedbacks and proposals presented by Huazong previously since the government implemented the MCO to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The 35-point proposal is as follows:
1) Proposing the government to increase the allocation for the Micro/i Kredit Prihatin scheme administered by the Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN), from RM700mil to RM1bil. This is in view of the overwhelming response to the scheme following BSN waving of the 2% interest for the said loan scheme.
2) Proposing the government to also further downward reduce or wave the 4% interest rate imposed on other micro-credit schemes provided through the BSN such as the Skim Pembiayaan Usahawan Perusahaan Kecil Kommuniti Cina.
3) Proposing the government to further reduce the interest rate for the Special Relief Facility (SRF) from 3.5% to not more than 3%, at the same time, to increase its allocation from the existing RM5bil to RM10bil, in order to help more SMEs to sail through this difficult time.
4) Proposing the banks to review and further reduce interest rates for personal and corporate loans to help ease the borrowers’ financial burden.
5) Besides appointing the BSN as the key facilitator for the various loan schemes under the Prihatin Rakyat Stimulus Package, the government should also engage the other commercial banks like SME Bank, EXIM Bank, and Bank Pembangunan to provide such loan schemes; at the same time, to enlist Bank Rakyat or the Agro Bank to facilitate the application of such schemes by those in the rural areas.
6) The government should also consider engaging the other commercial banks to facilitate the application and distribution of the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) aid which is currently being handled by BSN alone. This is in order to help ease the tremendous workloads of BSN, as well as to prevent a huge crowd from converging at its branches throughout the country, and to expedite disbursement of the aid to those who are qualified for it.
1) The government to pay due attention to and provide necessary assistance to foreign investors who are adversely affected by the pandemic and MCO and in need of help. This is to prevent the repeat of the embarrassing episode of poor handling of the plight of a Taiwan entrepreneur, recently. Such a situation if left unchecked, could adversely affect the confidence of foreign investors towards Malaysia.
2) While the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) recent move of raising the threshold for company bankruptcy from RM10,000 previously to RM50,000 until December 31,2020, is laudable, it is nonetheless inadequate. The threshold should be further raised to RM100,000 at least, and the duration is further extended.
3) Proposing further extension of the suspension of short-selling by the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), to at least another six months to one year, even after the MCO is lifted. This is in order to give sufficient time to public-listed companies who were adversely affected by the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and MCO, to recover.
4) Government to abolish the condition of requiring businesses with more than 200 workers to show proof of loss of revenue by 50% to entitle them to apply for the Wage Subsidy Scheme and to extend the scheme to cover businesses across the board, in order to safeguard jobs for the employees.
5) Government to do away with the condition of only those earning RM4,000 and below are eligible for the ‘Wage Subsidy Scheme’. This is to prevent those earning more from being targeted for retrenchment or forced to take a pay cut.
6) The Wage Subsidy Scheme should also be extended to cover employers of big corporations, and not just companies with 200 employees and below.
7) The Wage Subsidy Scheme should also be extended accordingly, in the event of the MCO is being further extended.
8) Government to take note of those employers and companies who did not apply for the Wage Subsidy Scheme and are currently facing serious cash-flow or financial problem, and to provide necessary help to them.
9) Government to pay serious attention to the plight of those who are self-employed. According to a survey conducted by the Department of Statistics Malaysia, only 7% of self-employed persons could sustain their livelihood for one month, and a vast majority of those unemployed are from the agriculture and service industry. Hence, the government should provide necessary assistance including zero-interest and unsecured financing to these groups of people.
10) Besides the SMEs, the government should also pay attention to public-listed companies which have been badly affected by the pandemic, so as to ensure that they could continue to play the significant role of ‘umbrella organisations’ for the SMEs and downstream industry players.
1) Besides providing allowances, the government should also provide additional Personal Insurance coverage for the medical first liners.
2) There should be a unified policy and chain of command among the key government departments and agencies in fighting the pandemic. This is necessary to avoid unnecessary confusion and dispute between the public and the business operators, like the recent case of contradicting statements by relevant authorities on the re-opening of certain businesses in the 2nd phase of the MCO (the barbershops for instance), the issue of whether to allow the varsity students to ‘balik kampung’ to celebrate the coming Hari Raya Pausa, etc.
3) While the government’s latest requirement for food delivery workers to undergo health screening is commendable, it should also require the health workers, especially those in the frontlines, to conduct regular health screening.
4) Government to provide tax incentives to encourage manufacturers in the country to ramp up production of Personnel Protective Equipments (PPEs), surgical masks etc, to solve the current acute shortage of such supplies.
5) Government to ensure that all elected representatives from both sides of the divide received the relevant government allocations for fighting Covid-19. This includes the RM22.2mil allocation for all the Parliamentary constituencies which is distributed through the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma).
1) Government to establish a ‘special task force’ consisting of various government agencies and representatives from the various foreign embassies, to work together with the employers and welfare organisations to attend to healthcare and welfare of the foreign workers, during the MCO period.
2) To continue to reach out to Malaysians working in Singapore who are currently ‘stranded’ over there due to the MCO, through diplomatic channels.
1) Statistics reveal that the number of domestic violence have been on the rise during the MCO period. Hence, the police must come out with effective measures to better protect and assist victims of domestic violence.
2) The police should also review some of its MCO enforcement measures which many considered inappropriate and excessive, such as the case of the detention of a man in Kuching, who was talking on his mobile phone outside his house, in the wee hours. He was subsequently remanded for seven days after he was produced and charged in the court.
1) Government to also include the senior secondary six students of the Chinese independent schools, for the one-off RM200 cash aid for varsity students.
2) Government to also provide necessary assistance to primary and secondary students of all categories of schools in the country, including the Chinese independent schools and private colleges, to help them to better cope with the current dire situation.
3) The recent announcement by the Minister of Defense and Higher Education Minister to consider extending the due dates for payment of tuition fees by students of private colleges is most welcomed. However, it would be even more helpful, if the government could also consider reducing their tuition and miscellaneous fees, so as to help ease the students or their parents’ financial burden amidst the pandemic.
4) The government should work closely with the public and private varsities to take care of those students who are currently ‘stranded’ in their respective hostels.
5) Government to encourage telecommunication companies to provide a special offer on broadband data packages to all public and private varsities students in the country.
6) Government to provide free broadband data packages to poor students to enable them to conduct online learning program.
1) In the event of further extension of MCO, government to accordingly boost the Prihatin Rakyat aid package to help the people to cope with the dreadful situation.
2) The government should also set up special or dedicated units to better take care of the vulnerable groups in our society namely, the elderly living alone, single-parent families, hardcore poor families, the native communities, and the foreign workers as well, on potential issues affecting them such as their daily basic needs, food and medicines.
3) While the government’s move of waving gas charges for all government hospitals and low-cost residential customers in the country, from April to September 2020, through Gas Malaysia Bhd, is much appreciated, it is also hoped that the government could further reduce the gas charges across the board, so that more consumers will get to enjoy such benefit.
4) The government should also consider giving a special rebate for sewerage charges for domestic households.