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MEF can take the lead

26 Mar 2020 / 21:12 H.

    MALAYSIAN Employers’ Federation (MEF) is a premier private sector employers’ representative and is internationally recognised.

    Way back in 1959, it started as the Federation of Malaya Industrial & Commercial Employers’ Consultative Association. Among its objectives, include one that states the government should be able to turn to the body for advice and consultation on the free enterprise system. Certain conditions are indispensable and it is the responsibility of employers to ensure that the government maintains them.

    Fast forward. Someone forwarded a copy of the MEF memorandum to the Ministry of Finance on issues and recommendations for the second stimulus package since the movement control order had a devastating impact on business and employment.

    The 15 recommendations have the laudable aim of ensuring that employers continue to remain in business and employees continue to remain employed.

    A reduction of contribution rates to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) will help to ease the cash flow situation of employers and avoid retrenchment. I hope careful thought has been given to this proposal since this is meant as savings for the future and mitigate the effects of future inflation.

    I would suggest that these reductions apply only for those earning say, more than RM6,000 a month.

    Suspension of corporate tax payment is good in order to inject liquidity into the market and to improve the cash flow for 2020.

    Other proposals such as companies that restructure and reschedule loan payments not be penalised by banks, reduction of utility rates and waiving the minimum period of 30 days unpaid leave are acceptable.

    In line with MEF’s vision to be the leader in the development of human resources and the promotion of good employment practices and harmonious industrial relations with a view to achieving national objectives, I have a few recommendations where MEF can play a role under current circumstances and when things get better.

    1. Help to improve the Gini coefficient as it will surely improve harmonious industrial relations.

    2. Try to stop the practice of tax avoidance among high-income parties during these times as it will assist in achieving national objectives.

    3. Private sector employers and employees may be paying a high proportion of taxes but how about closing down companies in tax havens. Though tax havens are not illegal, the country is in a difficult situation and this proposal will assist in achieving the national objective.

    4. Impress and employ all necessary actions to convince members to use latest technology to promote productivity.

    5. At present, stop investing overseas and increase domestic reinvestment by giving good suggestions to the government on areas to look at.

    6. Early last year, the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) ranked Malaysia third in illicit financial outflows behind China and Mexico. This is usually caused by misstating the value or volume of an export or import on a customs invoice ie a form of trade-based money laundering. MEF can play a big part in cautioning and monitoring these activities among members.

    7. Malaysia has produced many super-rich entrepreneurs through their business ventures in Malaysia. Some have come forward to contribute but there are many more who should follow suit.

    By the way, all of the above applies to the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers too.

    Surely from the government’s side, there must be avoidance of wastage and leakages.

    like reduction in expenditure right from the royal households, the Cabinet and local councils.

    Voluntary cuts in salaries and emoluments would be exemplary. Same for the private sector.

    Those with jobs should be thankful to God as many people have lost theirs.

    But then, will all the savings/relief granted be pumped back to the economy or the employees or distributed to shareholders who do not really need much help?

    The Malaysia Retailers Association appealed to the government to show that “you are behind us – the businesses” but will it be reciprocated at other times?

    Saleh Mohammed

    Kuala Lumpur

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