Latest stimulus package ‘not enough’: MACEOS

Current MCO restrictions insufficient to stem Covid spread, say tourism players; women walking past closed shops during lockdown in Kuala Lumpur pictured

The latest stimulus package (known as PERMAI) unveiled by Malaysian prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, on Monday evening (January 18), was a let down for the business events industry.

Under the package, the wage subsidy programme would be extended for one month to all employers regardless of the business sector. They stand to receive a wage subsidy of RM600 (US$148) for each employee earning less than RM4,000.

Malaysia is undergoing its second MCO; two women walking past shuttered stores in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers’ (MACEOS) president, Francis Teo, said that this sum “was not enough”. Overall, the PERMAI package did not provide a significant financial stimulus package” for the beleaguered industry.

Instead, MACEOS proposes a wage subsidy of 50 per cent for those earning up to RM6,000 for three months to mitigate the cascading impact even after operations resume at the end of the movement control order (MCO). Eligible employers must also prove 80 per cent or more decline in revenue or income compared to January 2020.

Teo stressed: “A one-size-fits-all wage subsidy does not work here. The business events industry has suffered terrible losses, close to 90 per cent loss in revenue, equivalent to RM2.3 billion since the first MCO started in March 2020 in Malaysia. Many will be on the brink of winding up if a stronger financial package is not provided.”

He also added that the 10 per cent electricity bill discount offered to six specific business sectors – including convention centres – was not going to be of much help since the industry was not allowed to operate during the MCO anyway.

At this point, Teo related that many industry players are struggling to stay afloat by deploying strategies such as salary cuts work from home arrangements, and taking unpaid leave.

“We are cutting operations costs as much as possible. There is nothing else we can skimp on,” Teo said, adding that a solid financial aid programme directed at the business events industry was sorely needed.

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