‘New stimulus packages will help economic recovery plan remain on track’

PETALING JAYA: New stimulus packages are needed quickly if the nation’s economic recovery plan is to remain on track, say industry and business players.

This comes after Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said during a convention to mark the six-month anniversary of his government on Tuesday that more stimulus packages – which would be distributed equally – may be implemented to help all Malaysians.

He also said that a Bumiputera Prosperity Council would be set up and chaired by him.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said the proposed stimulus packages must be rolled out as soon as possible because the current packages would be ending soon.

“We are already in September and the current packages will be ending soon. The new packages have to be rolled out quickly but I worry that bureaucracy will delay implementation and the people will get restless,” he said when contacted yesterday

On the equal distribution of stimulus packages to the rakyat, Shamsuddin said this may pose a challenge for the government because there were segments of society which required more assistance than others.

He noted that new stimulus packages must include quick fixes to existing labour laws and not rely solely on monetary aid through various programmes.

“We are talking about the environment under the new norm where there is more flexibility for employers,” he said.

“However, things won’t gel if the environment remains in the old norm which is rigid.”

Shamsuddin said the new stimulus packages would help businesses survive while ensuring employment.

He suggests extending and increasing the aid under the Wage Subsidy Programme (WSP), including a less cumbersome loan moratorium programme compared to the extended targeted one announced recently.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai also urged the government to implement new stimulus packages.

While acknowledging that the current packages have somewhat helped businesses stay afloat, he is concerned about the “double whammy” effect that businesses will face in October when the loan moratorium and WSP ended.

“The government should reconsider its decision on the loan repayment moratorium and allow for a further three months automatic moratorium until December 2020,” he said when contacted.

Soh also recommends that a further three-month extension of WSP is advisable.

“Only around 55% of the overall RM18.8bil WSP allocation have been utilised.

“We strongly believe that a further extension would be vital in ensuring that companies can continue to maintain jobs and with minimal need to institute any manpower cost-cutting measures,” he said.

Malay Chambers of Commerce president Dr Abdul Halim Husin said implementation of new stimulus packages was required to keep the nation’s economic recovery plans on track.

“It will help businesses which have been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic to not only make some profit but also recover their capital,” he said when contacted.

On the equal distribution of the stimulus package, he said this could be achieved despite the setting up of the Bumiputera Prosperity Council to champion the bumiputra agenda.

“Equal distribution does not mean simply providing aid to bumiputra companies without capabilities or rent-seekers.

“It has to be given to only bumiputra companies which are truly capable,” he said.

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