GEORGE TOWN, March 30 — Local authorities in Penang are waiting for the National Security Council’s (NSC) advice before issuing licences for Ramadan bazaars in the state, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said.
The licences are needed for vendors to operate stalls during the Muslim fasting month beginning April 24.
Chow said the city councils will act only on the NSC’s advice in light of the ongoing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
He also said Penang’s compliance with the Movement Control Order (MCO) was at 95 per cent, based on information from the police.
“At the State Security Council (JKKN) meeting I chaired this morning, we have decided on several initiatives which will be carried out during phase two of the MCO which had been extended to April 14,” he said in his daily message on Facebook today.
He said the state administration has contacted the Penang branch Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) and various chambers of commerce in the state to get feedback on how to work together to rebuild the economy of Penang.
“Furthermore, I will also bring up the issue of the difficulties now facing the employers in the SMEs during the special session of the National Security Council: Covid-19 Management which will be chaired by the Prime Minister tomorrow at 12pm,” he said.
Chow noted that day workers have now been through 13 days without an income and those running micro businesses as well as small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were also not spared.
“Your shops and offices have ceased operations but the rent of your business premises still continue, the salaries of your workers are still being paid, your stockpiled goods are not sold and if the economy doesn’t recover after this, your businesses may have to be closed down,” he said.
He said the state is aware of the people’s needs for aid during this critical time and assured those who qualify that the distribution of financial aid by the state will reach them.
“As I have said before, the Penang Aid Package was designed to cut down on bureaucratic red tape,” he said, adding that the financial aid will be channelled in April to all recipients.
“I have instructed all the relevant departments to speed up the process in order to reduce the burden that Penangites are now facing,” he said.
He conceded that the aid might be insufficient at this moment so the state will work closely with the private sector to make sure that there are still opportunities for employment.
He said Penang will offer the RM30 million Penang Business Continuity Zero Interest Loan to micro-businesses and SMEs to use as a “revolving model”.
“This loan is not only interest-free but the borrower is only required to repay after six months of obtaining the loan amount,” he said.