Companies cautiously ready to get back to business

Tempting offer: A woman walking past a sale promotion poster at a mall in Kuala Lumpur. Many retailers are offering discounts to increase sales during the recovery MCO period. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Enterprises and employers are readying themselves to revive their business as the recovery movement control order (MCO) takes effect today.

Under this phase of the MCO, the government has reopened almost every sector of the economy.

Malaysia Retail Chain Association president Datuk Seri Garry Chua said it was helpful that the government was making plans to spur the economy.

He said that during a meeting in Putrajaya yesterday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said there were plans to allow Singapore tourists to visit Malaysia in the next two weeks.

“That would be a good start because at least 30% to 40% of our tourists are from Singapore.

“There will also be a campaign to promote Malaysian products. We are working with (the government) on that. We hope that in the coming months, businesses will see positive results,” he added.

Chua said about 25% to 30% of retailers did not reopen under the conditional MCO, but the retail industry was now fully ready to win back customers.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan, however, said many companies were taking a cautious approach as they were still unsure if Covid-19 was fully under control.

“Of course, we would like to go from 30% to 50% to 100%, but it would not be feasible to do so at one go,” he said.

He added that while the number of new Covid-19 cases consisted of single digits yesterday, businesses were unsure if this was a permanent fixture.

“The cost of an infection at the workplace can be very high,” he said, explaining that employers might have to shut down their business, conduct disinfection and test all their employees for Covid-19.

On the employers’ part, they would make sure that social distancing and cleanliness were practised at the workplace, he added.

At the same time, Shamsuddin said employers would continue with the flexible work from home programme where possible.

He said they also could not operate at 100% because of poor consumer sentiment.

SME Association of Malaysia president Datuk Michael Kang said although the opening up of the country was good for business, some companies still required clearer guidelines on their operations.

“What is good is that with interstate travel, businesses can open up, especially if they need to see customers, build relationships or inspect goods,” he said.

He added that businesses may see a spike in demand for goods and services such as tourism and retail.

“For tourism, everyone has been staying at home for the past three months, so they would like to go out and enjoy themselves.

“People may also go out for shopping,” he said, though adding that he believed “revenge spending” would be short-lived.

He said even until now, some businesses were still clarifying certain aspects of the standard operating procedure with the International Trade and Industry Ministry.

“What the industry wants is very clear, detailed guidelines as sometimes interpretation by enforcement officials can be different,” he said.

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