Malaysia needs to be innovative to revitalise economy, says retail and brands advocacy group

·3-min read
The Malaysian retail sector has been badly hit by the pandemic. — Malay Mail file picture
The Malaysian retail sector has been badly hit by the pandemic. — Malay Mail file picture

KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — The Retail and Trade Brands Advocacy Malaysia Chapter (RTBA Malaysia) called on the government to be creative in its efforts to recover the billions of ringgit spent on curbing the pandemic and aid economic recovery.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on global and regional economies. In Malaysia, we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the prime minister outlining details of the National Recovery Plan to take the country out of the health and economic crisis by year end,” said Datuk Fazli Nordin, managing director of RTBA Malaysia in a statement.

“Nevertheless, the road to recovery will be challenging, and will require additional creative measures that can facilitate economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

A non-governmental organisation for advocating effective regulatory, financial and taxation policies affecting retailers and brands, RTBA Malaysia recommended several measures that the country can adopt.

“For one, we can look at opening up pathways to increase foreign direct investments (FDI). Due to supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic, multinational enterprises are re-evaluating their global footprint and calibrating their sourcing strategies,” said Fazli.

Datuk Fazli Nordin is the managing director of RTBA Malaysia.
Datuk Fazli Nordin is the managing director of RTBA Malaysia.

He added that Malaysia should take this opportunity to “design appropriate policies aimed at attracting investment following the pandemic and beyond.”

He cited the example of Myanmar which has adopted an economic recovery plan that includes “an active investment promotion and facilitation policy, including fast-tracking approvals for investment in labour-intensive and infrastructure projects and a reduction in investment application fees.”

RTBA Malaysia further recommended the creation of new revenue streams.

One way of doing this is by regulating the Malaysian vape industry and expanding the taxation framework which is now only limited to vape devices and non-nicotine e-liquids.

“According to reports, the Malaysian vape industry is worth some RM2.27 billion and has the potential to grow to RM10 million in a few years if nicotine e-liquids are allowed for sale with regulations. Further, local players which are made up of primarily SMEs will have the bandwidth to expand their footprint,” added Fazli.

“Additionally, the government needs to consider expanding the taxation framework for vape e-liquids to include e-liquids with nicotine which make up 97 per cent of the market. By doing so, Malaysia stands to gain some RM300 million in excise duty in the first year alone.

“Indonesia is a prime example. According to recent reports, since the introduction of a vape tax in Indonesia, the industry has seen a growth of approximately 60 per cent between 2019 to 2020.

“In 2019, the industry succeeded in contributing tax revenue to the tune of 500 billion rupiah (RM144 million) to the government. In 2020, the tax revenue generated from this industry was approximately 700 billion rupiah.”

RTBA Malaysia also pointed out the need to rethink tourism in Malaysia as it is “at a crossroads and the measures put in place today will shape the tourism of tomorrow.”

The long-term implications of the pandemic on tourism is such that now is the time to put in measures “to promote the structural transformation needed to build a stronger, more sustainable and resilient tourism economy.”

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