KUALA LUMPUR: The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong) has urged the government to come out with urgent-and-effective measures to address various pressing issues which entailed following the announcement of the imposition of a 14-day Movement Control Order (MCO) from March 18 to 31 nationwide to curb the spread of the Covid-19 infection in Malaysia.

Its president, Tan Sri TC Goh acknowledged that such a move has inevitably severely impacted on a wide range of businesses and commercial activities, and crashed the Bursa Malaysia which may push it into a bear market situation.

He said, Huazong has thus come out with a series of proposals for the Government to address the many pressing issues which entailed due to the implementation of the MCO.

“Firstly, we hope that Bursa Malaysia could immediately step in, to stop the banks from chasing after the listed companies for the shortfall or to top up the security deposit.

“And, we hope the banks could further relax and extend the repayment time for various types of loans such as, business loan, housing loan, car loan etc, for a period of at least six months, not to downgrade the companies’ credit rating, and to expedite the application of delay payment by the affected businesses, so that they could have sufficient cash flow to stay afloat, and to avoid retrenching of employees which would result in unemployment to many people,” he proposed.

Huazong also hoped that the Government could instruct Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Social Security Organisation (Socso) to relax and extend the payment period of contributions by the companies to a period of six months, at least.

It also proposed that the Government immediately launch unsecured loan facility for business operators, as well as low interest rate loan facility for a sum equivalent to 20% of their annual turnover.

The other proposals are as follows:

· To temporary suspend the Sales and Services Tax (SST) till June 2020, and to exempt its collection, for the whole year, to businesses which are directly affected by Movement Control Order.

· To provide special incentive and loan to small and medium enterprises, retail outlets, food and beverage businesses, and service industry who engaged in e-commerce.

· To exempt the collection of Tourism Tax and Entertainment Tax for family holidays package so as to stimulate the domestic tourism industry.

· To reduce the Corporate Tax, from 24% to 19%, besides extending the tax payment period, for businesses which are directly hit, such as tourism, food and beverage, convention and exhibition and related businesses.

· To provide double/additional tax deductions to encourage businesses to employ local workers from the B40 group, and to reduce retrenchment of workers. If the companies had no choice but to require the employees to take unpaid leave, the Human Resources Ministry should provide the necessary financial aids to both the employers and the employees.

· To postpone all Visit Malaysia Year 2020 related and low economic impact programs, and to divert all the funds to assist all those affected businesses and industries, the small-and-medium enterprises especially.

Besides this, Huazong also called on the Government and the relevant authorities to clarify the following issues:

· Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and the Ministry of Human Resources to clarify whether during the imposition of the MCO, the employers should give unpaid leave to the employees or, to deduct their annual leaves?

· Can mega shopping malls with supermarket, food and beverage outlets, pharmacy, convenient stores, banks, courier services, cleaning services, and telecommunication services continue to operate?

· Is there any restriction on the business hours for mega shopping malls, as it involves expenses for the air condition, car park, security etc?

· Do shopping malls which are compelled to cease business during this period of MCO continue to bear the burden of paying the rental?

· With the food and beverage outlets disallowing customers to have their food and drinks inside the premises, except for food delivery service, can the customers walk in to order takeaway food, or to collect the ordered food and drinks after ordering them?

· Are hotels located inside shopping malls allowed to continue with their business operation?

· What are the security measures to address the ongoing panic-buying trend?

· The hotel industry is badly hit with more than 430 hotels being affected, who should be responsible for their employees welfare?
· How should the hotels handle their customers who already checked into the hotel? If they are forced to evict their customers, if would certainly tarnish their image and reputation, as well as that of our country.

· The hotel suppliers too are badly affected with a majority of them forced to cease business.

· There are also legitimate concerns over public safety and security during this period of time when most businesses and jobs come to a grinding halt.

· In the event if the MCO is extended, would the Government provide special aid to all and sundry that are affected?