Hotel association says latest stimulus package ‘below expectations’

The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in 2,041 hotel industry employees being laid off, 9,773 given unpaid leave and another 5,054 taking pay cuts.

PETALING JAYA: The RM250 billion stimulus package to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 is below expectations, claims the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH).

MAH president Kamaruddin Baharin said the amount included the payroll subsidy of RM600 per month for three months for employees earning below RM4,000.

The hotel industry, he said, had proposed a minimum of RM1,000 per employee, or a minimum equivalent of 50% of employee’s monthly pay, for a period of six months.

This, he said, was in response to a much lower occupancy rate projected for the coming months due to the pandemic.

Kamaruddin said the amount being offered was below what the industry expected.

“We are looking at an average occupancy for Malaysia of nothing more than 25% in June, and that is if the movement control order (MCO) ends on April 14 and the outbreak is brought under control,” he said in a statement.

Recovery, he added, is not expected until the third quarter, with the industry pinning its hopes on the year-end holidays to make up for losses suffered in the first part of the year.

MAH, Kamaruddin said, had called on banks to waive interest on top of the moratorium, and to reduce employers’ Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributions.

But both, he lamented, were not included in the fresh RM250 billion rescue package announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin earlier today.

Instead, employers were encouraged to consult EPF on restructuring, rescheduling or postponement of contributions from April 15 onwards.

“At RM250 billion, the ‘Prihatin’ or ‘Caring Economic Stimulus Package’ does indeed sound impressive. But industries directly impacted by the outbreak of Covid-19 need a little bit more,” he said.

And while Kamaruddin welcomed the multi-level discount increases for electricity consumption, the federal government must ensure the same initiative is extended to Sabah and Sarawak, where energy is managed separately and not by Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB).

Kamaruddin also revealed that to date, 2,041 employees in the hotel industry had been laid off due to economic pressures and the extended MCO.

Another 9,773 were given unpaid leave and 5,054 took pay cuts.

MAH, he said, expected the number affected to grow “over the next few months”.

The stimulus package comprises RM128 billion for the people’s welfare, RM100 billion for businesses and SMEs, and RM2 billion to strengthen the economy, aside from the RM20 billion announced in the previous package.

Muhyiddin also announced a six-month deferment of taxes for the tourism sector.