KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 19 — The head of a business association has proposed the government step in to help the sector reduce its operating costs in light of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Star reported SME Association of Malaysia president Datuk Michael Kang as saying that ahead of the stimulus package to mitigate the outbreak’s economic impact, the government can also provide special and easier approval loans to small and medium businesses (SME) to overcome cash flow issues.
He added that many industries are reeling from Covid-19, including the tourism and manufacturing sectors.
“We should also encourage Malaysians to visit local tourist spots like Langkawi and Labuan to further stimulate the economy.
“The government can also come up with special subsidies for local tour and travel agencies and hotels to keep businesses afloat,” Kang was quoted as saying.
Kang was one of several business association heads who shared proposals or opinions with the newspaper on how to best counter the economic impact of Covid-19.
Others included Malaysian Employers Federation president Tan Sri Azman Shah Haron, who proposed that the implementation of the RM1,200 minimum monthly wage can be deferred until the situation normalises.
Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai also commented, saying the stimulus package will spur increased confidence among investors when it comes to foreign or domestic direct investments.
Confidence among business owners remains low, as a survey by the Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Malaysia (ACCIM) revealed that 82.1 per cent of 331 respondents projected that sales between January and March this year will be severely affected.
“42.4 per cent of respondents anticipated sales will drop by more than 20 per cent, with tourism-related businesses the hardest hit with over 55.2 per cent of respondents expecting sales to plunge by more than 20 per cent.
“The outbreak, should it continue for six months, can possibly bring down sales by over 30 per cent for 84.5 per cent of respondents,” ACCIM said.
The chamber also urged the International Trade and Industry Ministry to closely monitor the external trade sector and assist companies if they face potential disruptions in the supply chain, especially for SMEs.