A substantial economic stimulus package is needed to rescue businesses relying on the Chinese New Year celebrations to survive, but the ongoing Movement Control Order (MCO) 2.0 is hampering such hopes, said DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.
- Automatic extension of bank loan moratoriums
- Rental reliefs or subsidies
- Giving struggling families RM1k monthly during the Covid-19 crisis
- Allowing hairdressers and clothes retailers in pasar malam to operate
- Banks ease lending conditions
- The government buy laptops for all students
“The government must step in and take responsibility to save not just the tourism sector but also the economy as a result of the extension of the MCO until Feb 18, following its failure to manage the surge in Covid-19 infections.
“Is the government aware of the economic distress of the unemployed, the poor and those running small businesses closing down and workers losing jobs?
“Ministers should leave their air-conditioned offices and go down to the ground and witness the economic sufferings of workers, the tourism industry, clothes retailers and shopping complexes whose tenants are paying high rentals without any customers and small businesses.
“Where is the promised automatic extension of bank loan moratoriums, rental reliefs or subsidies, and increase in monthly welfare payments to RM1,000, including to the growing number of unemployed?” he asked.
The government should give struggling families RM1,000 monthly spending money to help with household expenses during the Covid-19 crisis, said Lim.
He said the government should not lend aid in one-off payments such as that offered in the Prihatin package, but focus on easing the hardship of the people on a monthly basis.
“The PN government has forgotten the plight of the people who are in dire straits. We need to have a radicalised economic situation. We should not be too tied down with the old ways. We need to save the people and their jobs. This is a fight for the survival of Malaysians.
“The public does not need one-off payments like Prihatin but something monthly to support their families…at least the RM1,000 that was promised by the prime minister,” Lim said.
Prime Minister Muyiddin Yassin in December said the Social Welfare Department should increase monthly assistance payments to RM1,000.
Lim said the flip-flops and u-turns by the government in disallowing and then allowing businesses to operate had damaged business confidence.
He added that there was no reason for prohibiting hairdressers and clothes retailers in pasar malam from operating compared to other businesses.
“If the Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa can break Covid-19 protocols, walking side by side with two colleagues without a mask, then why does the government practice double-standards by barring ordinary Malaysians from earning an honest living?” he asked.
Lim also said the temporary closure of the oldest hotel in South East Asia, Penang’s famous Eastern & Oriental, was a wake-up call from an industry on “life support”.
Penang and Malaysians, he pointed out, were sad over the fate of the famous E&O, which has been operating since 1885.
He added that many hotels throughout the country had either closed for good or temporarily, with many still operating, becoming hawkers and selling hotel food on the streets.
Lim said after severe criticism, the Tourism Ministry had finally woken up from the complacency and incompetency of their Minister and Deputy Ministers.
“They have conceded that their 2021 Budget projection of the hotel room occupancy rate for 2020 at 61.1 percent and 58.4 percent for 2021 are wrong. Instead, the hotel room occupancy rate has been revised to 27.8 percent in 2021 and 25.4 percent in 2020.
“Now that the Tourism Ministry knows how serious the situation is, the critical question is what they are doing to help the industry, that lost RM100 billion in revenue last year to survive.
“Any inaction and inertia on their part will result in the tourism sector bleeding losses and will not help the tourism industry recover enough to take advantage of any economic rebound projected for this year,” he noted.
Lim also criticised the RM330 billion national budget as being too conservative.
“Budget 2021 was to save. It was an austerity budget. This cannot be, we are having a crisis now. We need to spend bravely.”
Lim said banks must ease their lending conditions as well extend the moratorium on repayment for failing businesses.
He also was concerned about the state of the country’s education system that has struggled to cope with digitalisation.
“The government should use this opportunity to buy laptops for all students, so they have an alternative to study.
“There are countries that are less well off than us who are using this system, like Vietnam and some parts of Indonesia. We should not be left behind.”