Rakyat pleased with targeted MCO approach

PETALING JAYA: A more targeted approach in the implementation of the movement control order will help the economy to recover.

The people’s moods can improve as well, says an economics expert.

Prof Dr Barjoyai Bardai of Universiti Tun Abdul Razak said lockdown rules at specified target areas were better than blanket regulations as the people are allowed to have some semblance of normalcy in their daily lives.

“Total lockdown rules have caused a lot of stress on everyone, especially households and micro-businesses.

“By relaxing the rules a bit, the government is essentially allowing everyone to resume their normal lives, ” he added.

He said people were also looking forward to the vaccine, adding that it would not only boost the people’s immunity to Covid-19 but also market confidence and sentiments.

“We are now working towards achieving herd immunity, and while this doesn’t mean we may win the war against Covid-19 entirely, at least everyone will be more confident to resume normal lives and therefore market sentiments and confidence will improve, ” he added.

He said initiatives in the Strategic Programme to Empower the People and Economy (Pemerkasa) economic stimulus programme, such as the Tekun Mobilepreneur, would enable communities to continue earning an income while inspiring them to build on their business prospects.

The programme was expanded under Pemerkasa to include facilities for repairing or buying new motorcycles up to RM10,000.

The initiative is further complemented with a 100% excise duty exemption on locally assembled motorcycles with engine capacities of 150cc and below from April 1 to Dec 31,2021.

“Not only will there be opportunities to continue earning an income, but communities, especially those in the lower-income group, can start mechanising themselves to be more productive and improve their standard of living, ” he added.

Prof Barjoyai said the increased allocation for small-scale projects in 2021 from RM2.5bil to RM5bil would also revitalise opportunities among smaller Grade G1 to G4 contractors.

“Not only are we hoping to see them receiving such projects but we hope they will also be inspired to gain knowledge of new technology and processes that would help them be more efficient, ” he said.

Small-scale projects may include repairs on infrastructures and amenities like bridges, roads and lifts at public housing projects.

He said the main focus of Pemerkasa is to ensure people would have food on the table.

Prof Barjoyai also believed that the government was experimenting on a few pilot projects that would open up more opportunities for youths and encourage them to seize the moment.

Meanwhile, Sunway University Business School economics Prof Dr Yeah Kim Leng said the new measures under Pemerkasa totalling RM20bil could support the recovery momentum with further assistance channelled to the still vulnerable households and fragile SMEs.

He said initiatives such as Tekun Mobilepreneur would encourage urban youths, especially those from B40 communities, to explore home-based entrepreneurial opportunities.

“It is aimed at individuals, especially the urban youths from B40 families to engage in delivery, repair and other personal services to get income, ” he said.

“The initiative can help link youths to various existing digital delivery service platforms or spur new ones to explore new opportunities.”

As the government formulates ways to help the people through the pandemic, Prof Yeah said it would be desirable to include an economic recovery support system to strengthen the nation’s food security by incentivising greater local food production, encouraging agro-entrepreneurs and improving the efficiency of food supply chains.

“Those in rural communities can be provided with employment or additional income sources by engaging in productive activities that can enhance their lives, ” he added.

“The resumption of economic activities should sustain gradual recovery in GDP growth,” he added.

Malaysia will be announcing its 3Q GDP performance this Friday.

The country’s GDP contracted by 17.1% in the second quarter of 2020, the lowest recorded since the fourth quarter of 1998, mainly due to the MCO enforced during the quarter to stem the spread of Covid-19.

This has prompted Bank Negara Malaysia to revise its official GDP forecast for 2020 to a contraction of between 3.5% and 5.5%.

In the Economic Report 2021, the Ministry of Finance expected Malaysia’s GDP to contract by 4.5% in 2020, before rebounding to growth of between 6.5% and 7.5% in 2021.

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