The Perak Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCCI) wishes to congratulate the reappointment of YAB Dato’ Seri Ahmad Faizal Dato’ Haji Azumu as the 13th Menteri Besar of Perak. We welcome his reappointment as this will help to maintain a follow-through of the policy carried forward from the previous administration.
We will continue to cooperate and work closely with the new state government.
We are concern that the delay in the formation of a new Exco line-up will push back the state social, cultural and economic programmes which urgently require to be put back on track again.
We would urge that the new line-up in the state Exco is filled by competent and scandal-free assemblymen from the different races to ensure credibility, confidence and that the interest of all communities is taken care of.
Even without the Covid-19 problem, the economic activities in the state has not been faring well. Business, in general, has been slow and businessmen have been struggling to make ends meet. To overcome the present serious economic downturn, we urge the state government to act in unison first to kick start the committed projects such as the extension of the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport and its runway and to open up the tourism projects for investment in both Pangkor Island and the Belum Heritage site. At the same time, we need new investments both domestic and foreign to inject liquidity and to create more employment opportunities. We also urge the state government to review and improve on the present delivery system, particularly within the ambit of local authorities such as the Land and Mines Office (PTG) and local councils. The time taken to process and approve applications for MB’s consent, land-use conversion, Planning Approval (KM), etc., should be shortened and more predictable.
We also urge that state government engage all the stakeholders before implementing major projects and changes giving NGOs like PCCCI a voice to express on-the-ground feedback. This will allow input from the private sector to minimise potential pitfalls and difficulties in implementation. A case in point is the short-lived Ipoh-Guangzhou direct flight which was prematurely terminated. Given the opportunity for giving our inputs, we would have advised against the cost of expensive airfare at the start and the flight schedules at odd hours of the day.
The Movement Control Order (MCO), which was implemented effective from March 18 to 31, we fully agree that it is a necessary and appropriate measure to contain the spread of the dreaded Covid-19 virus, even though individuals and businesses will be badly affected and suffering great financial losses. We recognise that given the urgency of this issue and the scope and complexity involved, there will be some areas where clarity is needed. We are pleased to note that ACCCIM has been constantly engaging with the relevant ministries since the announcement of MCO at the federal level to consider input provided by our team of specialists. ACCCIM addressed matters of all aspects ranging from classification of essential services, the negative impact on manufacturing sectors especially the SMEs, compensation on employees for not working, financial assistance packages to the affected companies and so on. With a little bit of patience and understanding, we are sure things will be sorted out.
We are of the opinion that while essential services such as wet markets, clinics, pharmacies, food outlets, be allowed to operate, the government should consider other producers and manufacturers, who have to stay open to ensure the supply to the market, is not grossly affected. This, they can do it on a reduced scale to just meet the market needs, after all, demand of all items, other than the essential goods, will be slow in this low activity situation.
The purpose of MCO is for social distancing. We urge that all public transport like buses and trains be stopped in these 14 days. The public should be warned that they are not allowed to come out as they like. Interstate travel should be banned except for essential services.
We also urge the government to review and increase the RM20 billion Economic Stimulus Package announced earlier at a time when the spread of Covid-19 had not been serious. With the partial lockdown like the MCO in place, this RM20 billion will be inadequate.
We also urge the government to consider expanding on the option of reduction on EPF contribution. The amount is too small to make an impact. We suggest allowing all employers the option of abstaining from contributing EPF for a period of 12 months. With the total contribution of 24% (13% from the employer, 11% from employee), we are talking about potentially some RM7 billion going into the consumer market every month. That is on the assumption of 15 million working population earning an average of RM2000 per month. This will allow an employee earning RM2000 per month to have an extra RM720 a month to spend.
We also urge the banks to grant a 6-month moratorium on all individual and companies whose payments on the outstanding loans are affected by the Covid-19 situation.
Last but not least, we call upon all citizens to abide by the ruling announced by the government for abstaining from going from place to place with large crowds and to avoid close contact with people. We urge everyone to stay clean and ensure hygiene at all times. When we do our part as good citizens the nation will be safe.
Dato’ Liew Sew Yee
Perak Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry