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Worried FMM proposes nine-pronged strategy to save manufacturers

FMM In The News: THE STAR, KUALA LUMPUR, Friday, July 2, 2021 - The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) has proposed a nine-pronged strategy to help manufacturers due to uncertainties about the indefinite extension of Phase 1 of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

FMM president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai appealed to the government to immediately move into Phase 2 of the NRP to prevent permanent and irreversible damage to business and the economy.

He said the manufacturing sector is already severely impacted by business closures of the non-essential sectors and the reduced capacity operations of the essential sectors.

“We have proposed the government review the three thresholds of the NRP for a faster transition to Phase 2 and opening up of more sectors to minimise the damage to businesses and the economy, ” he added.

On June 27, 2021, the government announced Phase 1 of the NRP has been extended indefinitely until the three key indicators of the number of daily Covid-19 cases drop to below 4, 000; the rate of usage in intensive care units (ICU) is at a moderate level; and 10% of the population has received two doses of the vaccine jabs, have been achieved.

“This has sent most industries into a greater level of panic and anxiety on the future of their business viability given the indefinite prolonged lockdown.

The nine-pronged strategy is:

i. Given the current trends and the latest projections on cases, FMM believes that waiting for the cases to drop to below 4, 000 cases and the uncertainty of achieving that milestone before the essential economic sector list is expanded and workforce capacity is increased will effectively kill the manufacturing industry.

FMM implores the Government to implement state or area specific lockdowns targeted at the highest number of infections to break the chain of infections.

To minimise the impact on both the industry and economy, states/areas where the cases are lower and under control should be allowed to operate without any distinction between essential and non-essential sectors.

For the states/areas that have been put under the targeted lockdown/EMCO including the latest announcement of the EMCO covering a sizeable number of districts/mukims under Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, FMM calls for the Government to expedite and prioritise the following within this two-week EMCO period:

• Mass testing of everyone including foreign workers and undocumented foreign workers;

• Confirmed vaccination appointments for all under the National Immunisation Programme (PICK) and Program Immunisasi Industri Covid-19 Kerjasama Awam Swasta (PIKAS) so that industries affected can restart operations after the EMCO period.

In addition, companies with the MITI CIMS approval under the warm idle mode should be allowed to continue to operate at the 10% capacity under the EMCO as it is very costly to switch the machinery and equipment off and on.

ii. Accelerate and expedite the PICK including the immunisation of the economic sectors via the PIKAS including facilitating mobile clinics through mobile trucks/buses apart from the current Common Use Pusat Pemberian Vaksin (PPVs) and On-site PPVs facilities. To also prioritise PIKAS for the high-risk states/areas especially the Klang Valley region;

iii. Allow a parallel vaccination programme by private hospitals and clinics and for the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) to accept WHO-approved vaccines without imposing additional requirements at the national level so that the private sector can purchase vaccines not used by the National Immunisation Programme and expedite the vaccination process for all.

iv. If the delivery of vaccine is a constraint, the current threshold of at least 10% to be fully vaccinated should be reviewed to 10% with at least one vaccine dose and setting a minimum threshold within each company so that companies can be allowed to operate and/or increase capacity.

v. Companies that opt for private immunisation should be allowed to claim the cost from their HRD levy and be allowed for tax deduction where applicable. We also strongly support the need to fix a ceiling price for the private immunisation depending on the cost of the vaccine to avoid any profiteering by the parties involved.

vi. The government should increase the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity instead of waiting for the ICU bed use to reduce to moderate levels.

vii. While waiting for the immunisation to be completed, continue with mass testing of the general public including foreign workers, especially the undocumented ones, as mass testing has been proven to be a very effective approach to pick up positive cases and trigger the necessary tracing, isolation and treatment protocols.

viii. A comprehensive strategy for vaccination of undocumented foreign workers as they will pose a threat to the attainment of herd immunity if unvaccinated.

ix. A comprehensive strategy and action plans to address the likely shift of the Covid-19 pandemic to an endemic and how the population will have to ”live with it”.

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