Datuk John Lau Pang Heng

KUCHING: Sarawak Patriots Association (SPA) has urged the federal government to take a leaf out of the United Kingdom government’s book in helping companies affected by the movement control order (MCO) by using national reserve funds to pay for at least 80 percent of these companies’ staff salaries.

Its chairman Datuk Dr John Lau Pang Heng said that this would help significantly as these companies would then only have to cover the remaining 20 percent.

“During the MCO, these companies still need to pay for their rent, water, electricity, and other operating costs,” he said.

He recalled that the federal Human Resources Ministry had asked employers to pay full salaries to their staff affected by the MCO.

However, he pointed out that companies that had ceased their operations during the MCO had no income.

“If these companies continue to pay staff salaries without assistance from the government, SPA feels that they would collapse soon and would affect the economy badly,” said Lau.

Meanwhile, he also urged the federal government to draw funds from the national reserve to assist the population during the MCO.

“Asking citizens to withdraw from their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) second account is discouraged,” he said.

He said that many EPF contributors preferred to keep their savings for retirement and other emergencies.

Earlier, the federal government had announced that EPF contributors below the age of 55 would be allowed to withdraw RM500 per month from their second account for a period of 12 months.

Lau also noted that the federal government had not announced incentives for those above 55 years of age.