Businesses urged to stay the course

PETALING JAYA: While the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme will see the steady easing up of movement restrictions, businesses have been urged to transform to remain sustainable for the future.

Businesses have to be proactive and practical, said Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) SMEs committee chairman Koong Lin Loong, as conservatively it could take about a year to vaccinate the majority of the population.

“Based on the rate of vaccination of 126,000 individuals per day, we will need about nine months to vaccinate at least 80% of the population, provided there is no rest day in between.

“And since a second dose will be administered, a complete vaccination for the nation will take time and could last up to the first quarter of next year.

“It is better for businesses to face reality and do a self-risk assessment to see if they are able to sustain themselves until that time, ” he said in an interview.

Companies, he said, should avoid having any “vaccine euphoria” because the economic effects are not direct and immediate.

“They must ensure enough cash flow to be resilient on their own, asking ‘where am I standing now?’ by looking at three important things.

“First, do they still have the cash flow to continue? Second, can their products and services be offered online to meet more demand? Third, can their business be digitalised?

“If all these considerations are met, the continuity in business will create resilience against future challenges, ” he said.

Koong also advised businesses not to keep hoping for government assistance.

“Vaccination is only an indirect factor for business survival, ” he said.

“There is still a long way to go for consumer confidence to be fully restored to pre-Covid-19 times, even with vaccination.”

According to the Statistics Department, a healthier economic outlook is anticipated in the coming months based on the latest Malaysia’s Leading Index performance and the implementation of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

Federation of Manufacturers Malaysia (FMM) president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai, when contacted, said the gradual and better outlook was expected when most people were vaccinated.

“The majority of the industrial sector falls under phase three of the immunisation programme from May until next February.

“In this regard, we envisage that a certain level of recovery to pre-Covid-19 levels of business, the job market, as well as the economy, could be seen perhaps in the fourth quarter of 2021 and early 2022 when the majority would have been immunised, ” he said.

FMM, said Soh, had previously requested some form of prioritisation, where practical, to be given to the industrial sector in phase three of the immunisation programme.

“This is because this phase would cover the majority of employees in the industrial sector and they are crucial in supporting the business and economic recovery of the nation, ” he said.

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