KUCHING: Sarawak Federation of Chinese Associations’ (SFCA) president Dato Richard Wee is appealing to the government to provide assistance to businesses over a longer-term basis to help them overcome the challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“While economic packages such as Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package are good initiatives to jump-start the economy, you can only do so much,” said Wee to The Borneo Post.
Wee opined that it would be better if the government could provide greater assistance in terms of lowering the costs of doing business or implementing business friendly policies to help business owners overcome their financial burden more effectively during this period.
“You cannot forever offer to subsidise employees’ salaries or any other similar assistance. I think maybe there should be other means to try to assist people in conducting their business at a lower cost.”
For example, Wee said the government could always look into taxes that are imposed on individuals and corporations as well as reducing the licensing and administrative fees for businesses in different sectors, such as hawker stall owners.
He said the government can also engage banking institutions to request for greater flexibility for businesses impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, while introducing structural changes to the construction industry to bring the costs of land and property down.
“If a country has the means to provide stimulus measures, like what we are seeing in Singapore, they can do whatever they deem necessary, but if we are to talk about encouraging businesses to proactively embrace the new norm in the long-term, more still needs to be done.”
Wee said the government can encourage owners to adapt their business model by taking the impact of Covid-19 into account and offering long-term support for them to continue their business operations, instead of dishing out short-term financial assistance packages.
He also believed the announcement to extend Recovery Movement Control Order till the end of the year was the right move in order to prevent the emergence of second or third wave of Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
“Fundamentally, this (Covid-19 pandemic) is a health and medical matter and I do think that this health crisis needs to be prioritised over the economic aspects, despite businesses are doing everything they can to cope.”
Wee also pointed out some of the regulations and procedures imposed under the Movement Control Order could be continued post-Covid-19 pandemic as they seem to have an effective impact on curbing social ills, especially those involving entertainment outlets.