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FMM: Open up more economic sectors; many businesses under duress

FMM In  The News: FOCUS MALAYSIA, Friday, February 5, 2021 - AS the battle to fight the COVID-19 pandemic without disrupting the economy rages on, the hard reality is that it is never easy to please every level of the business community.

The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) today expressed disappointment that the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday (Feb 4) did not include the opening up of the remaining economic sectors which were excluded from the list of essential services approved to operate earlier.

The sectors earmarked by the FMM include the textile, apparel and footwear sectors and the entire supply chain including retail and other industries/sectors that may be indirectly supporting the essential services as well as major export-oriented companies.

To re-cap, five sectors deemed as essential economic sectors are allowed to operate during the ongoing movement control order (MCO 2.0), namely (i) factories and manufacturing; (ii) construction; (iii) services; (iv) trades and distribution as well as (v) plantation and commodities.

“These sectors are unable to remain closed over this extended MCO period which is hurting their business tremendously,” justified its president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai.

Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai

In a related development, FMM also reiterated that orders for the immediate closure of businesses that are not in compliance to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and operating conditions must be taken with full consideration of some key challenges faced by the industry.

“This includes those that require the full cooperation of other key stakeholders such as the local councils when it comes to compliance to Act 446 (Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990) on housing of foreign workers,” Soh pointed out.

Additionally, FMM also requested that enforcement efforts by the authorities beyond the police force such as Jabatan Sukarelawan Malaysia (RELA), the armed forces, Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and the local councils to be streamlined and conducted according to standard guidelines and general SOPs that have been announced for implementation nationwide.

With regard to the phase three of the national vaccination plan which would cover the majority of those who are contributing to the national economic growth, FMM noted that there have been little details on the availability of COVID-19 vaccines for non-citizens, notably foreign workers who are key contributors to the Malaysian economy.

“(At the same time), there must also be an action plan to address the illegal foreign workers in the country as this group is a big threat and risk to the nation,” Soh added. – Feb 5, 2021

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