It’s now time to save livelihoods

PETALING JAYA: With Covid-19 vaccines available, a business group has urged the government to provide more leeway for “domestic demand”.

Business Survival Group (BSG) pro-tem president Datuk Abdul Malik Abdullah said interstate travel should be allowed, to fuel economic growth.

“The time has come to favour livelihoods, as the arrival of the Covid-19 vaccines has helped to mitigate the pandemic.

“We urge Putrajaya to lift the interstate travel restrictions and the ‘negative list’ that still includes indoor theme parks, family entertainment centres, and live events.

“This should be done earlier before the next review on March 18, with all indicators showing an improving trend.

“This will return consumer confidence and drive the domestic demand cycles that will fuel the growth of our economy, ” he said yesterday.

With Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Penang to be placed under the conditional movement control order (MCO) beginning today, Abdul Malik said Klang Valley should be placed under the recovery MCO sooner.

“We have the largest presence of economic, transport and tourism activities centering on the areas here. The government should deploy a targeted enhanced MCO for localities, areas, districts, states or even regions between green and red zones.

“It should not be a blanket implementation because it will badly affect businesses, especially those in the hospitality and tourism industries.

“States like Melaka and Penang rely much on tourism, ” he said.

Abdul Malik added that BSG, which comprises 262 business associations and chambers of commerce, has been getting feedback from the ground through its weekly meetings.

Reports or statements are then published for the government to be aware of the latest updates and business needs and wants.

He said BSG felt that banning interstate travel until at least 70% of the population has been vaccinated, which is expected to be completed by next February according to the government’s plan, would not be an ideal move.

“We feel it is not viable for businesses to wait that long. We propose the government rope in private hospitals, clinics and general practitioners to speed up the vaccination process, ” he said.

Abdul Malik also suggested sectors with a high number of foreign workers be immunised first.

“We should learn from history to identify groups that are prone to infections, and similar to performing the Covid-19 test earlier, medical teams can be sent to factories with many foreign workers to vaccinate them to reduce congestion and time at health facilities, ” he added.

Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong) president Tan Sri Goh Tian Chuan also called for the opening of the remaining economic sectors and implementing the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) programme and travel bubble initiative.

At a recent meeting, the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) was told that many businesses have been affected.

“We propose the government consider the implementation of the travel bubble or green bubble initiative with some foreign nations in places that have been declared green zones.

“Also, the implementation of the RGL can include other Asean member countries or those in Asia, to effectively resume bilateral trade and economic activities, ” he said.

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