MANY are still hoping for a total lockdown or a full Movement Control Order (MCO) of 14 to 21 days with stringent provisions imposed.
Let me summarize it, especially the economic rationale that justifies a total lockdown:
1. More than 55% of the country’s economy is driven by service sectors such as food and beverage, tourism, retail, logistics and others. As long as the ‘half-baked’ MCO is implemented and prolonged, COVID-19 cases will not decrease since those sectors are allowed to operate.
2. Statement of a minister who claims that big firms are where many people depend for their livelihood is only to rationalize the government’s action to take better care of big tycoons.
What’s real is the fact that small and medium sector (SME) is the backbone of the economy which contributes over 38.9% to GDP or RM552.3 billion (Department of National Statistics, 29 July 2020). Thus, the present MCO does not help the SME sector at all and even complicates their operations.
3. Data and Science show that although 37% of the economy is contributed by the manufacturing sector, it also shows that factories are the largest contributor to 50% of Covid-19 outbreak transmission. There is no guarantee that the spread of this pandemic can be controlled without TOTAL LOCKDOWN.
4. In TOTAL LOCKDOWN or PARTIAL LOCKDOWN, large companies can almost certainly continue to pay their employees’ salaries or bargain pay cut incentives. On the other hand, SMEs that depend on depleting daily income are affected by the ‘loose’ MCO.
Therefore, it is better a TOTAL LOCKDOWN of between 14 and 21 days is enforced.
5. If it is true that the daily cost of MCO 1.0 is RM2.4 billion and borne by the government, then the TOTAL LOCKDOWN for 21 days will be RM50.4 billion and not up to RM500 billion. RM50.4 billion is only 3.57% of the country’s GDP or about RM1.4 trillion.
6. The Government can still afford special assistance during the TOTAL LOCKDOWN by providing new loans because the Finance Minister himself had stated that the total national debt is still below the ceiling (60% of GDP) set by the National Debt Act.
After all moratorium 2.0 without additional charges for a period of 3 months, i-Sinar 2.0, and i-Lestari 2.0 have no additional cost to the government.
7. The TOTAL LOCKDOWN can give a large and maximum effect to containing Covid-19 because the lifespan of the virus is only up to 14 days. Thus, the government can focus more towards formulating good strategies, especially health.
With the rising new cases of Covid-19, Pemuda is reiterating its call for the government to review the decision on MCO by imposing a total lockdown.
Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki