‘Use roadmap as a guide’

PETALING JAYA: The newly announced National Recovery Plan can serve as a guideline for individuals and businesses to plan ahead during the movement control order (MCO) though it needs to be better defined, say economists.

Its four transition phases, as outlined in the plan, offered some form of clarity on the exit strategy for individuals and businesses, said Sunway University Economics Professor Dr Yeah Kim Leng.

This is especially for those that are deemed non-essential and not allowed to operate, to better plan and prepare for business continuity, he said.

However, he acknowledged that they should be better defined and science-based.

Yeah said factories and businesses that are not allowed to operate would need further assistance from the government to survive the MCO.

“Growth-enhancing strategies and measures to facilitate industry adjustments and restructuring while enhancing support for growing industries and start-ups are also needed to boost entrepreneurship, investment and employment growth.

“This is so that the economy emerges faster and stronger once the pandemic is contained.”

Yeah also said that the people can expect specific but comprehensive short and medium to long-term policies, strategies and measures to be unveiled.

This would be similar to the National Economic Recovery Plan crafted to extricate the country from the Asian Financial crisis in 1998, he said.

Malaysian Employers Federation president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman said the recovery plan had provided employers with a realistic roadmap to return to normalcy by year-end.

However, he said long-term safeguards must be in place to “ensure Malaysia would not have to face another lockdown situation again”.

“There is no one solution that fits all in a global pandemic as the Covid-19 situation is so fluid and dynamic.

“There is no shortcut. The behaviour of the rakyat must change by remaining patient and following the SOP.

“While many are critical of the government, we must be realistic and appreciate that managing a global crisis is not easy and the government is doing its best,” he said.

Syed Hussain noted that the recovery roadmap should also include the setting up of a national vaccine centre to deal with issues of long-term vaccine supply and its efficacy.

“Though the number of people being vaccinated has been encouraging recently, the supply of vaccines is often disrupted by high demand, due to factors such as increased orders for third boosters by other countries to deal with the emergence of Covid-19 variants and mutations.

“The setting up of our own specialised vaccine research centre would look into the long-term prospects of producing our own vaccines without the need to depend on others,” he added.

Putra Business School economist Prof Dr Ahmed Razman Abdul Latiff said that any future stimulus packages announced by the government must have initiatives that would not sideline the M40 group.

“The Finance Ministry must also be vigilant on finding out which sector required more attention and which group of individuals required aid, which not necessarily have to come in the form of cash aid.”

Ahmed Razman expressed optimism in the current market despite the MCO as he cited the rise in global crude palm oil prices as a positive factor.

He said the government, when drafting the Budget 2022, should take note of the crude palm oil prices.

“We should think about diversification and at the same time, take advantage of the rising commodity prices and increase our exports,” he said.

“But most importantly, we must always explore new markets and encourage Malaysians to improve the human capital so that we will be a nation of exporters, instead of purchasers,” he added.

Gerakan Ekonomi Malaysia president Armin Baniaz Pahamin said that until herd immunity was achieved or until the sectors were allowed to reopen, there was a need for a blanket loan repayment moratorium.

Help should also be provided to small traders and SMEs that were not allowed to operate, he said.

This could include rental subsidies of at least 30%, reduction of electricity bills by 50%, a choice to withdraw from their Employees Provident Fund, and food coupons.

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