Azmin Ali: Failure to reopen the economy will sap public coffers, jeopardise businesses

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali is pictured at the Prime Minister Office’s in Putrajaya March 11, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali is pictured at the Prime Minister Office’s in Putrajaya March 11, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 2 — The government chose to allow most businesses to resume operations on May 4 in order to preserve the country’s economy and prevent companies from collapsing due to measures to contain Covid-19, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali said today.

The senior minister in charge of the international trade and industry portfolio argued that the decision was made only after weighing the country’s progress in containing the pandemic against the World Health Organisation’s criteria.

“Considering the effectiveness of the war against Covid-19, the time has come to fully focus on restarting and driving economic growth to ensure the prosperity of the public and the sustainability of the economy.

“If the government did not take this step, the country’s revenue stream will erode, economic growth will be stunted, while business and individual incomes will also be jeopardised,” he said in a statement.

Azmin added that reopening the economy will allow businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises, to start generating income again and protect jobs.

The senior minister also stressed that all businesses reopening on Monday must comply with the Health Ministry’s guidelines for their respective industries, and failure to do so will be treated as a punishable offence.

All enforcement agencies have also been directed to ensure full compliance with the guidelines at both state and federal levels, he said.

He also reminded Malaysians that authorities would not hesitate to introduce enhanced movement controls in the event Covid-19 cases increase again.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that all business sectors save for those that rely on crowds or close contact will be allowed to reopen on Monday.

However, the timing of the announcement — the May Day holiday before a weekend — has left businesses scrambling to meet the requirements set for their respective industries, such as the full sanitisation of their premises and procurement of temperature scanners and masks, among others.

Groups such as the Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce have expressed caution over the decision, saying that any lapse of preventive measures could cause a new spread of Covid-19 in Malaysia.

Today, the Sarawak state government also said it will not yet adopt Putrajaya’s decision to reopen the economy on Monday and will decide for itself when it will be safe to do so.

Malaysia recorded 105 more Covid-19 cases as of noon today, the first time that new infections have hit the three-digit range since April 16.

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