Proposals put forth on ways to restart businesses

13 Apr 2020 / 12:00 H.

GEORGE TOWN: Two proposals have been put forward to enable businesses to resume at least partial operations while the nation rides out the movement control order (MCO).

The first proposal, by the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), calls for manufacturers of essential items to be allowed to resume operations at full capacity while those producing non-essential goods be allowed to restart at 30% to 50% capacity.

The second, by an economist, calls for businesses located in “safe zones” to be allowed to operate, regardless of which sector they are in. Both also stressed the need to abide by the necessary guidelines to prevent more Covid-19 infections.

FMM northern region chapter chairman Datuk Ooi Eng Hock said an opportunity should be given to the 60,000 factories in the country to show that they can resume operations and keep the virus at bay at the same time.

He said all employers would be required to show that they could take the necessary steps to prevent a spike in infections during a “trial period” that can be determined by relevant authorities.

“It is important that the manufacturing sector regains investor confidence because it is the main driver of economic growth.”

Economist Prof Dr Yeah Kim Leng of the Sunway University Business School said allowing businesses located in “safe zones” to resume operations would help to boost the economy without raising infection risk.

“They will be able to generate income and ensure survival, which will translate to lower risk of employment layoffs.

“When the government announced that certain sectors can operate nationwide, they may have overlooked the health risk. For instance, what if the premises are located in red zones? There is higher risk of exposure to the virus.

“What the government needs to do is identify safe zones, put in place a standard operating procedure and allow operations in that area, irrespective of sectors.”

The International Trade and Industry Ministry on Friday lifted the restriction on some sectors after the MCO was extended to April 28, including barber shops, full laundry services, hardware stores, construction services and social health services.

However, independent economist Dr Baayah Baba suggested that the government maintain its previous decision to allow only essential services to operate for the time being, adding any decision to allow businesses to resume operations in zones declared safe should only be done if infections drop significantly.

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