Govt urged to extend Wage Subsidy Programme

PETALING JAYA: The government should consider expanding the scope of its Wage Subsidy Programme, said civil society organisations.

Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong) president Tan Sri TC Goh urged the government to consider extending the programme for another six months, instead of three.

Such an extension, he said, is needed to curb rising unemployment and to safeguard jobs for the people.

“An extension for another three months would only last until September, which many affected businesses think is inadequate to mitigate the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is especially true for those businesses which are currently still unable to resume or which are still making a loss after they reopened and are desperately in need of government assistance,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He added that if the government should further extend the conditional movement control order, it should also ramp up the aid for people and affected businesses.

Goh however lauded as a whole the economic recovery plan worth RM35bil that was unveiled by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Friday.

He especially welcomed the MY30 unlimited public transport passes and the steps taken to stimulate the property market, such as the exemption of the Real Property Gains Tax for the disposal of residential homes.

Alliance for Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye urged the government to consider increasing funding for the Wage Subsidy Programme.

“The allocated sum of an additional RM5bil for three months appears to be on the low side,” he said.

He estimated the allocation would only amount to about 0.6% of total wages paid out in the formal private sector as a whole.

Other governments, such as those in the United Kingdom, Singapore, Canada and France were providing wage subsidies of up to between 75% and 80% to employers, he said.

He said the Malaysian government could consider expanding the Employment Retention Programme.

“The current funding of RM240mil will only cover 66,000 employees which is only a small percentage of the projected number of unemployed people,” he said.

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