KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — Malaysia’s tourism industry is “too important” to be set aside for later and needs financial injections now if those still in business are to survive, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said today.

He urged the Finance Ministry which he led briefly for 22 months to provide further subsidies to workers in the tourism industry, waive the interest for bank loans during the moratorium, grants, and subsidies on rentals and utilities to businesses that had survived last year’s RM100 billion losses.

“Offering loans and tax deductions or rebates is meaningless when there is no revenue or business available.

“With the RM45 billion cash injection advocated by PH and agreed to by the Federal government in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Transformation and Stability between the Prime Minister and four top Pakatan Harapan Leaders in Parliament House on 13 September 2021, the Finance Ministry should be able to provide much needed financial aid,” the Bagan MP said in a statement.

Lim pointed out that government statistics showed that pre-pandemic, the tourism industry’s gross added value to the GDP in 2019 amounted to RM240 billion. 

“The tourism industry is too important to either ignore or abandon without any concerted financial assistance,” he said.

He claimed the much needed financial grants for the tourism industry had been missing from the previous Perikatan Nasional government’s eight economic stimulus packages amounting to RM530 billion. 

“Whilst we can argue on the quantum to be given, the problem is that if none is offered, none will be expected to survive,” he said.

Lim’s calls for the government to provide the tourism industry with a financial leg-up comes as more hotels and businesses in tourist hotspots nationwide were reported to be permanently closing.