Pakatan urges extra help for SME workers, firms facing Covid-19 including bigger wage subsidies

Soo Wern Jun
People are seen wearing face masks during the movement control order in Kuala Lumpur March 24,2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — While the recently announced economic stimulus package includes welfare aid for the next two months, it does not explain a viable fiscal plan, Pakatan Harapan (PH) secretariat council today said.

In a joint statement undersigned by PKR vice-president Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin, Parti Amanah Negara communications director Khalid Abdul Samad and DAP’s Ong Kian Ming, they said if implemented well, the stimulus package can help Malaysians meet their basic needs while they comply with the movement control order (MCO).

“However, the package does not explain the viable fiscal plan which prevents job losses as a result of the economic downturn faced by companies especially those categorised as small-medium enterprises (SMEs),” the statement said.

According to the statement, SMEs in Malaysia provide seven out of 10 jobs and play an important role in driving growth as well as income for the government through the payment of corporate tax.

“Therefore, extra help is needed not only to protect the well-being of the people, but also the fate of the SMEs,” it added.

Because the government will spend RM5.9 billion under the wage subsidy programme where it pays RM600 per month for three months for 3.3 million workers, PH secretariat council saw the number as insufficient.

“It is recommended that this payment be increased to RM1,200 that is in line with the national minimum wage rate.

“This will not only help employees, but also SMEs by reducing the payroll burden and helping to prevent workers being let go.

“This larger number is in line with efforts made in several other countries including Singapore, the United Kingdom and Australia,” the statement read. 

The PH secretariat council also looks at the economic situation especially in the next six months deeming that it requires rigorous planning and bipartisan support.

“This is due to the Covid-19 outbreak on the economy is long-term and can change the global economy.

“Therefore, the secretariat council is calling for an emergency parliamentary session to discuss Malaysia’s economic problems today, including bipartisan cooperation to curb the outbreak and save the country,” the statement read.

The one-off payments and loan repayment delays are part of the RM250 billion second stimulus package announced by Muhyiddin to address economic concerns caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

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