AFTER 3 months of adapting to the MCO (Movement Control Order) and the new normal following the Covid-19 crisis, the Government has to come to terms with the next phase of aid and intervention. The economy is still bleak, unemployment is rising, companies are on the lookout for recruitment and investment, and while the levels of growth are showing a downward trend while economic activity is not expected to accelerate again.
Some suggestions for Government to consider are:
1) Help entrepreneurs and companies adapt to SOP and new norms.
In terms of customers’ temperature, logging in and out of work (for example, half of the work each at the office and home), buying mobile devices and so on will incur more cost. It is not enough for the Government to impose conditions and SOPs without assistance or incentives – when employers are unable to comply with these conditions they are penalised or ordered to cease operations.
Recommendation: The Government provides a SOP Covid-19 compliance incentive scheme especially for SMEs and small business owners whose cash flows are already seriously affected, to help ensure that both aspects of health / safety and economic development activities are upheld.
2) Digital component incentives and automation
During the day I touched on the digital divide and the need for short and long term strategies to keep entrepreneurs and SMEs / Bumiputera companies from being left behind.
Covid-19 has accelerated the urgent need to use digital technology and automation as a critical aspect of competitiveness. Around the world, those with the ability to use digital applications and solutions, and companies having the automation element are the winners. Inevitably, those who do not have it are losers.
Proposal: simplify cost financing with respect to digital technology adoption and automation. From small things like mobile applications, QR codes to bigger things like manufacturing automation – maybe a loan or grant scheme can be considered.
3) Legal “Moratorium”
We are aware that Covid-19 is an extraordinary scenario, so the implementation of the law for some things is just as remarkable. The rent of the premises cannot be paid not because the dealer failed but because the business had to stop. House rent cannot be paid not only because the tenant is stubborn but his income is also affected.
Debt to the supplier cannot be settled over the promised period not because the buyer intentionally slows down but the activity of the entire value chain is affected, or the stock sells.
These are all real-life scenarios and they should not be interpreted in the usual framework.
Recommendation: A decision should be made by the Government to defend the plight of those involved in extraordinary dilemmas that are not their fault or failure. “Pause” any legal action on the matter at this time.
Three specific suggestions at the moment. There is also a need to look at a few other things that I briefly touch on, so the statement doesn’t take too long to comprehend.
4) Training and job placement schemes especially for those who are unemployed as a result of Covid-19. SL1M or similar schemes can be adapted to the passage of time.
5) A “job retention” scheme in which the Government and related agencies assist the company to retrain existing workers for skills that are different from the previous – provided that there is no employee layoff or reduction if there is no option.
6) Work guarantee scheme. Please refer to some previous posts and statements for more details.
7) Review your ability and willingness to continue with the National Care Aid or any form of cash transfer to those at risk.
Most likely, Covid-19 will not disappear quickly. It is part of the reality of today’s life. The initial strategy and approach is to “lockdown” everything. But “lockdown” cannot be permanent. Economic hibernation should not be too long.
Today, the world is beginning to find more realistic and sustainable phishing solutions without compromising health. Hope the Government can find the best balance point in the near future.
UMNO Information Chief