Economic plan to complement vaccination programme required

Sim Kiang Chiok

KUCHING: The nation still lacks a concerted exit plan with an official road map, says Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers Association (Sheda) Kuching chairman Datuk Sim Kiang Chiok.

He said an economic plan to complement the vaccination programme was required in order to form this much-needed exit plan with road map.

“The government only made known on a piecemeal basis of important milestones such as the vaccination target by December this year and the lifting of the Emergency Ordinance on Aug 1, but economic help and business support are announced until June this year,” he said on Friday (March 19).

He pointed out that there were missing plans in assistance until herd immunity was achieved, estimated to be the year-end.

“So it is difficult for businesses to plan and move forward,” he said, commenting on Pemerkasa announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Wednesday (March 17).

He noted that there were 20 strategic initiatives worth RM20bil to boost economic growth, support businesses, and continue targeted assistance to the people and sectors still affected by the pandemic and lockdowns.

He also noted that among the initiatives under Pemerkasa was increased allocation for the Covid-19 immunisation programme to bring forward the target from February next year to the end of this year, achieving crucial herd immunity.

Sim felt that the government needed to do more in terms of assistance provided to businesses and economic sectors, especially since many were still suffering from the effects of the first movement control order (MCO) as well as the subsequent MCO and infection waves.

“Through Pemerkasa, the wage subsidy programme is extended for three more months for targeted sectors such as tourism, wholesale, retail, and other businesses closed during MCO 2.0.

“However, other business sectors that are indirectly affected due the lockdown are not assisted in the wage subsidy and areas not under the MCO such as Kuching are not assisted.”

He said the initial automatic loan moratorium was also not extended in this programme but only continued with the targeted moratorium assistance as previously announced last year under the Permai package.

“Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with good credit record can still borrow bank loans under various schemes. However, those with a little blemish on their credit score will be facing a tough time to secure these government-assisted loans as the requirements are as stringent as the pre-Covid-19 period.”

He commended the one-off RM500 assistance provided for those in the B40 group who had lost their income, as well as the RM100mil assistance for kitchen items to benefit the urban poor in major cities.

On the government agreeing to extend the effective coverage period on protection against the inability to perform contractual obligations, he said this further extension from March 31 to June 30 would be most welcome to save time and cost in the administration of various contracts in the country. 

“The return of the oil and gas subsidies are also appreciated to ensure that our cost of living in Malaysia would still be manageable when oil prices are expected to rise due higher demand with more world economy resumption or operating at a higher output.”