Cash-strapped businesses praise govt aid 2.0

PETALING JAYA: Employers have given a thumbs up to the special Kita Prihatin assistance package which gives a lifeline to cash-strapped businesses.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai lauded the additional allocation under the package’s Wage Subsidy Programme 2.0 worth RM2.4bil, which is expected to benefit 1.3 million employees.

He said industries continued to face recovery challenges in the second half of 2020, especially in terms of lower projected domestic and export sales.

“The extension will provide much-needed support for industries in sustaining their business and safeguarding employment.

“FMM thanks the government for taking heed of its call for a further three-month extension of the Wage Subsidy Programme until December, and welcomes the announcement by the Prime Minister under the Kita Prihatin package, ” he said, adding that the impact of the economic disruptions resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and the movement control order had weighed heavily on many businesses.

The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF), while lauding the extension of the wage subsidy programme, pointed out that it was not inclusive enough.

MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said the assistance should benefit those who need it the most.

“Limiting the subsidy to only those with an income of less than RM4,000 will make those in the higher income groups more vulnerable, especially when they have a higher risk of losing their jobs.

“The data on retrenchment shows that more people from the higher income groups are being retrenched, and more than 52% of retrenched workers were from the managerial and professional level, including technical and skilled workers.

“This is unfair, as high income earners also contribute to the Employment Insurance System (EIS), similar to those earning below RM4,000, but they are not assisted, ” he said.

Shamsuddin noted that the RM600 monthly subsidy was low compared to other countries in the region that subsidised wages up to 80%.

“The government may not have enough resources for now, but they should have a bigger allocation so that the assistance package is inclusive, ” he added.

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