Finance Ministry: Continuity of specific, strategic economic sectors crucial to keep Malaysia competitive


PETALING JAYA: Specific economic sectors need to stay open for the general public's well-being and supply chain continuity for essential products and services, says the Finance Ministry.

Noting the need to contain the Covid-19 pandemic efficiently, the ministry said there is also a need to prevent any disruption that could threaten the continued production of goods and services required by essential industries.

It said these essential industries were food, health/medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, cleaning agents such as soap and detergents, and telecommunications.

"Learning from lessons of MCO 1.0, the government has also allowed the related value chain of essential goods, such as packing and labelling, to operate," the ministry said in a statement on Monday (May 31).

A nationwide full lockdown is being imposed from Tuesday (June 1) to June 14 to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The ministry said supply chains are a complex ecosystem comprising people, operations, technology and information technology; they connect producers and buyers through a network of entities and resources.

"For the supply chain to function smoothly, these elements need to work in tandem to ensure efficiency," it added.

The ministry said the recent National Security Council (NSC) meeting had decided for strategic industries such as the aerospace industry, oil & gas, manufacturing and electrical & electronics (E&E) sectors to remain open.

As an example, the ministry said exemptions were given to the E&E sector because thousands of components manufactured by this sector enable critical infrastructure globally such as healthcare and medical services, water systems, energy grid, transportation and telecommunications networks.

The ministry also said Malaysia is a key player in the E&E global value chain, representing 40% or RM386bil of Malaysia's annual exports and approximately 7% of the world's semiconductor trade.

"In one instance, Malaysia is critical as the sole production site for aluminium substrate for all hard drives being produced by a factory in Johor, for onward feeding into the company's global supply chain.

"Additionally, in 2020, about RM15bil of fresh investments in the E&E sector were approved, to create 20,000 more jobs for Malaysians," he said.

"As such, even the short-term closure of the E&E sector could disrupt supplies from Malaysia and jeopardise essential goods not only in Malaysia, but also the rest of the world," the statement read.

Totally shutting the E&E sector could also have the long-term effect of diverting trade and investment from Malaysia and hurting the country's competitiveness in the global value chain, it added.

"We already experienced this in the first MCO when some Malaysian manufacturers reported that their orders had been diverted to other countries including China," the ministry said.

It gave an assurance that the government would, through enhanced monitoring and enforcement, ensure that factories strictly comply with SOPs.

It said the services sector will not be allowed to operate during the lockdown despite contributing 57.3% of the GDP in the first quarter of this year.

Though essential retail such as supermarkets are allowed to operate, the ministry said there are more than 20 categories under retail that have to close, such as electrical and jewellery shops, barbers and hairdressers, and car dealerships, among others.

The ministry also noted that only critical construction work such as maintenance and repairs are allowed during the lockdown.

"These are in line with the government's focus on reducing mass gatherings and mobility. The Finance Ministry would like to remind everyone that the whole-of-nation approach is crucial to beat this pandemic.

"As such, all rakyat and businesses are requested to play their part and strictly comply with SOPs to break the chain of transmission," it said.

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