KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 ― Datuk Seri Azmin Ali said today the decision to streamline the issuance of operating permits to companies under the Covid Integrated Management System (CIMS) for the “total lockdown” came from the National Security Council.
Azmin’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) operates the CIMS and has been criticised over the government’s reversal from an earlier decision to have individual ministries authorise the companies under their jurisdiction.
Today, he clarified that the ministries would still need to determine and verify which businesses are deemed essential. The CIMS, now in its third iteration, will only issue the permit once the verification by the respective ministry is done.
“Up to now 15 ministries are registered and using CIMS 3.0 to ease the assessment of applications by the respective industries to operate,” he told a press conference held earlier this morning.
“Once the ministries have verified these applications the company can then print the approval letter through CIMS 3.0,” the minister added.
Azmin also dismissed claims that his ministry is the sole authority to determine which industry can or cannot operate throughout the lockdown
Ministries that oversee transportation and agriculture, for example, both have their own permit approval system independent of CIMS 3.0, according to the Gombak MP.
“So the permits are not only issued by Miti but there are also other ministries that can do it, and their systems have proven to be effective for their respective target groups,” Azmin said.
“Bank Negara Malaysia, as another example, is also responsible for issuing permits for the financial institutions and the banking system. Miti is not the sole determining authority of whether or not an industry is deemed essential,” the minister added.
The government has allowed 17 industries deemed essential to remain operational throughout the current MCO but at reduced capacity of just 60 per cent.
But the decision has become the source of contention among critics of the Perikatan Nasional who felt some businesses that have been allowed to stay open are not crucial.
One such example is the supposed approval given to a beer factory. The National Security Council later issued a statement to say the beer brewer should not have been allowed to open, and is not deemed to be essential.
Azmin conceded today some parties may have been able to manipulate the CIMS system to obtain approval, but said his ministry has found just one case so far.
“It was a helmet manufacturer that received a permit by pretending to produce protective gear for health workers,” the minister said.
Miti is now actively conducting checks to prevent a recurrence, while CIMS technicians are working “round-the-clock” to spot dubious applications, Azmin added.