Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s Azman Hashim International Business School’s Prof Asan Ali Golam Hassan commended the government for the four-phase National Recovery Plan, adding that the country now had a clear roadmap to recovery.
“What we need to do now is to ensure the measures spelt out in this exit strategy are achieved so that we can begin the recovery process,” he said.
Prof Asan said the targets under the plan would be achieved even faster if the government was able to increase the vaccination rate, pointing out that since the government would allow more sectors to open under Phase Three, more people should be vaccinated by then.
Prominent economist Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Zakariah Abdul Rashid said there was a direct correlation between the vaccination rate and reopening the economy, as well as with the number of daily Covid-19 cases.
“The experience of other countries shows a similar relationship. Thus, the vaccination programme will be a crucial component.
“If we can bring the numbers of cases down, then the economy can be vibrant again,” he added.
Prof Zakariah said the National Recovery Plan presented a clear path forward and was aimed at mitigating the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He agreed that the government should further ramp up the vaccination programme through a well-planned outreach to all levels of society, including marginalised communities.
“The government is trying its best to do that. Fortunately, we don’t hear much anti-vaccine noise anymore now,” he added.
Prof Zakariah said he was hopeful that the National Recovery Plan and all stimulus packages announced earlier would expedite the nation’s recovery from the pandemic.
Universiti Malaya epidemiology and public health expert Prof Dr Sanjay Rampal said the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme was an essential component of the plan.
“Vaccination is key. When more people take part in the programme, then other plans that the government wants to put in place to improve the economy and the lives of people can be rolled out,” he added.
AmBank Group chief economist Anthony Dass said the speed of economic recovery would depend on three major indicators: the number of daily Covid-19 infections; the capability of the public healthcare system based on the bed utilisation rate in intensive care units; and the speed of vaccination.
Brics-Asean Chamber of Commerce president Thayalan Nathan said the National Recovery Plan was a well thought out document that would help Malaysia rebuild its economy faster.
“We believe the targets spelt out under the plan are achievable. The fact that more than 200,000 people are being vaccinated a day now is truly a positive development,” he added.
Thayalan said with better cooperation between the public and private sectors, especially in the health sector, the plan’s target of bringing life back to normal by the end of this year looked a certainty.
Alliance Bank Malaysia chief economist Manokaran Mottain said things would improve significantly if the rate of vaccinations could be ramped up.
“Lives and livelihoods are of the utmost importance here and the government’s initiatives show that it is not giving up,” he added.
Malaysian Indian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) president Datuk Jawahar Ali said the National Recovery Plan was very important in ensuring that the economy got back on track.
He said as a result of the lockdown, most outlets had business that was one-fifth of what it was before.
“Thus, it is important that everyone gets vaccinated so that life can return to normal and restaurants can reopen,” he said.
Malaysia-Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors Association president Wong Teu Hoon said business could be brisk only if people were given the freedom to move about.
“But for this to happen, more people need to be vaccinated. I sincerely hope that the public realise how important it is for them to be inoculated, so that when there is some freedom of movement, they can help businesses and the economy grow,” he said.
Wong, who will be getting his first dose of the vaccine today, said it was no secret that business among association members – some 20,000 coffeeshop and 10,000 restaurant owners – had been affected by the pandemic.
“Yes, we can still open for takeaways and deliveries but it is just not the same as having customers dining in at our restaurants. So we need all the help,” he added.
In Ipoh, digital analyst R. Charroogesinee said in view of the recovery plan, people were finally starting to catch a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.
“With the immunisation plan picking up pace, we are on track to a better tomorrow and going back to our ‘old normal’, to say the least,” she added.
R. Deviyah Daranee, a financial analyst, said the step-by-step structured plan announced by the Prime Minister towards recovery looked promising.
“This plan is an important and strategic arrangement to restore our economic standing while simultaneously, vaccination drives have been carried out in full force.
“These are hard times, but we need to focus on the silver lining that the objective of this plan is to achieve maximum recovery while also safeguarding the lives of the people – and in no time, we will be able to reap the benefits,” she added.
In George Town, florist Basheer Ameer Sultan said although he was initially apprehensive, he now encouraged all his friends to sign up for vaccination.
“The only way around this is herd immunity. The increase in daily vaccinations will make a difference and if 60% of the population is vaccinated, we will be in the final phase,” he said when met at his shop along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling.
Mujiburahaman Shamsudeen, who has been operating a mee goreng stall for the past 24 years, said he liked the clear direction of the National Recovery Plan, but hoped the phases could be applied at the state level too.