Employers group calls for a moratorium on statutory payments

  Date Posted: 30 Aug 2021, Monday

PETALING JAYA: The government has been urged to help ease the cashflow woes of businesses by providing a moratorium on statutory payments such as contributions to the Human Resource Development Fund and Social Security Organisation.

Malaysian Employers Federation vice-president Anne Kung said a moratorium on Employees Provident Fund contributions could also be put in place, though this should be a last resort.

Kung, who is also treasurer of the Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said although the Sarawak state government had announced various forms of aid for small businesses, many were still facing a tough time.

Kung said if the total lockdown persists, the state government would not be able to sustain paying grants to groups like petty traders and hawkers. “I don’t think the federal government can afford to give that sort of financial help. Last year, there was a RM600 wage subsidy for 6 months only, this time around, there isn’t a similar subsidy,” she said.

On a positive note, she said the pandemic has hastened the transition of small businesses in Sarawak to move online and this has caused the state government to roll out a development programme to further improve internet connectivity.

“Sparse internet coverage in Sarawak has hampered the ability of small businesses to use the internet for their businesses. The state government is on target to provide 4G coverage to 300 underserved areas using its own funds and has also helped set up its own online trading platform to assist small companies to sell their products,” she said.

Sarawak Business Federation secretary-general Jonathan Chai said small businesses such as restaurants, pubs, hotels, travel agencies, reflexology, wellness centres and retail outlets were hit hardest by the pandemic in Sarawak.

Chai said the wage subsidy programme should be maintained for a longer period, and a moratorium on loan repayments granted on an automatic basis for all businesses.