Help part-time workers, self-employed hit by Covid-19, govt urged

Many of the self-employed have been badly hit by the Covid-19 crisis.

PETALING JAYA: A think tank called on the government to identify the areas and jobs that have gone into “hibernation” due to the Covid-19 crisis so that adequate aid could be given to them.

Laurence Todd, director of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), said there could be people in self-employed businesses and part-time work who might have been laid off temporarily and who might not have savings.

“Some businesses may be able to operate or may have been given permission to continue but other businesses will have to enter a period of reduced activity.

“The government needs to identify this group facing difficulties and develop options,” he told FMT.

He said social security protection was needed for those working part-time and on contract as they might not have uninterrupted cash flow during this period of reduced activity.

“Some people may not be able to work from home,” he said, adding that attention had to be given to this group to prevent them from going into debt.

The government, he said, needed to find ways for this group to have access to government aid and to ensure it reached the right people.

Saying it was inevitable that business activities would slow down, Todd suggested that payment of taxes be deferred to increase cash flow among Malaysians.

“Some activities may go into hibernation but will recover in the future,” he said. Government agencies need to start identifying them immediately.

He welcomed the move to give RM600 each month for a maximum of six months to employees forced to take unpaid leave.

“I welcome the focus on social protection but we need to understand the pressure points and changing dynamics, including those working part-time. The government needs to stay active. It may need to add new measures as the situation develops,” he added.

For that, he said proper data was needed. “The government needs data to give out the right assistance,”