Pakatan urges Putrajaya to protect economy, workers in Covid-19 crisis

A general view of traffic in Kuala Lumpur on Day Two of the movement control order March 19, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
A general view of traffic in Kuala Lumpur on Day Two of the movement control order March 19, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council said the federal government must ensure the continued economic and business stability of Malaysia that is facing a public health crisis.

It also said the government must take steps to provide financial aid to workers affected by the disruption caused by a two-week mandatory shutdown of all non-essential activities nationwide.

In a press statement, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu jointly urged the Perikatan Nasional (PN) administration to give added focus to supporting those in the so-called “gig economy”.

“A financial aid of RM600 a month for those earning below RM4,000 and forced to take a no-pay leave for six months will complete the economic stimulus package that was announced on February 27, 2020.

“This assistance should be delivered especially to those involved in the gig economy such as e-hailing drivers, those who earn daily income as well as any other working groups that require this assistance,” the PH leaders said.

They believe that the assistance is needed to help workers in all sectors, particularly Malaysians working in Singapore, affected by the Movement Control Order.

The statement also called for the government to increase its assistance for the small-medium enterprise across all sectors — especially tourism and retail through a three-month tax and license exemption.

They suggested that loan regulations be relaxed to ensure there was sufficient liquidity for businesses to sustain themselves and proposed that Bank Negara Malaysia consider exempting business loans from interest if necessary.

“To protect local employment and save businesses in the country, a three-month moratorium is critical and must be implemented for all debtors. All banks’ high profit margin should allow them to absorb the loss.

“This is the role of the banking sector to ensure the continuity of business and employees to avoid systemic collapse,” they said.

The three of them also advised the government to give more incentives for government front-liners who are battling the Covid-19 pandemic on a daily basis.

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