GLC-driven initiatives will boost recovery, say experts

PETALING JAYA: Economists have welcomed budget initiatives involving government-linked companies (GLCs), saying it is important for these companies to help bolster Putrajaya’s efforts to revive the economy.

These initiatives can help ease unemployment and boost small businesses, say economists Madeline Berma, a fellow of the Academy of Sciences, and Yeah Kim Leng of Sunway University Business School.

These initiatives include MySTEP, a short-term employment project under which GLCs will provide 15,000 contract jobs, and the RM300 million Jana Niaga platform to help finance small and medium enterprises.

There is also the RM150 million contribution from GLCs for the provision of laptops to students in 500 schools and the expansion of the My30 travel pass and a new RM5 unlimited travel pass for school students involving an RM450 million allocation from Prasarana.

Madeline said the RM700 million allocated for MySTEP will be vital, especially considering the unemployment rate was at an all-time of 5.3%. The MySTEP programme also went well with efforts to reskill and retrain workers.

“Although government handouts work as a short-term solution, a longer-term solution would be to create employment opportunities provided by GLCs, even if it is on a contract basis.”

Yeah said the pandemic provided GLCs an opportunity to justify their existence as an extension of the government’s socio-economic agenda.

“Through offering apprenticeships and even industry training, GLC’s may well be able to help Malaysians get back on their feet. Hopefully this will help mitigate the severe unemployment, especially among youths.”

Madeline and Yeah believe there is still a lot that GLCs can still do to support the government’s efforts.

Yeah says GLCs in the health sector should invest in efforts to find a Covid-19 vaccine, saying the best way to ensure economic recovery was to find a way to contain the pandemic.

Madeline said GLCs need to go beyond corporate social responsibility and should work with local start-ups and social enterprises to add value and create opportunities for all Malaysians.

She also said she hoped GLCs would consider investing in low-tech initiatives in areas without sufficient infrastructure.

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