Find the right balance in battle against Covid-19, says commerce group

Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap

PETALING JAYA: The government needs to find a balance in protecting the people's health and livelihoods while mitigating the anticipated economic and social impacts from a prolonged battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, says the Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM).

Its president, Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap, said ACCCIM had gathered feedback and suggestions from its members concerning the immediate issues faced by businesses to revitalise while coping with the third wave of Covid-19.

"ACCCIM's think tank, the Socio-Economic Research Centre, has obtained feedback and suggestions from its members and we are proposing a list of measures and initiatives to the government.

"These cover easing the cost of doing business, taxation, continued provision of credit and financial facilities, enhancing consumer spending, accelerating the adoption of digitalisation, creating jobs, reskilling and upskilling of manpower, reviving tourism and enhancing exports," said Ter in a statement on Friday (Oct 23).

He said ACCCIM hoped the government would focus on the provision of relief assistance and tax breaks as well as initiatives to ease business cash flow, cost and credit, protect jobs and enhance consumer spending while helping businesses and workers develop new capabilities and set the stage for long-term growth.

Topping the list of proposals were calling for the containment of Covid-19 and clear precautionary measures to be clearly communicated and disseminated to avoid public confusion.

"There needs a balance in protecting lives and saving livelihoods.

"The precautionary measures also need to be constantly reviewed to determine strictest compliance and enforcement," he said.

Ter called for the easing of 3Cs – cash flow, cost and credit – and the revival of private investment to help businesses get back on their feet firmly.

"The Wage Subsidy Programme (WSP), Employer Covid-19 assistance programme (e-CAP) and the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) levy should all be extended until next year to help employers.

For existing loan schemes, Ter said "the amount of funding should increase and the access to loan facilities should ease by enhancing the terms and conditions" as some of the loan schemes have low utilisation rate.

He also said the existing RM2bil Penjana financing for small-medium enterprises (SME) and the RM1bil tourism financing can be enhanced in several ways.

Ter said the taxation policy should be reviewed, as the timing of introducing new taxes and sequencing of tax reforms must be implemented in line with the state of economic and business conditions and economic structure.

"For jobs creation and skillset enhancement, the reskilling and upskilling programme should extend to the end of next year.

"This includes the hiring and training programmes as well as assistance for businesses," he added.

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