Selangor can be litmus test for mass screening, says economist

Selangor has allocated RM1.3 million to screen some 5,000 people for the Covid-19 virus.

PETALING JAYA: An economist has praised the Selangor government for its second stimulus package, saying the support measures are well targeted.

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs fellow Carmelo Ferlito said the state had its priorities in order and was rightly treating the Covid-19 crisis as a medical emergency.

Speaking to FMT, he noted that RM2 million had been allocated for face masks and hand sanitiser and RM1.3 million for the screening of 5,000 people for the virus.

He said the screening could be a litmus test on the effectiveness of mass testing and could inspire other states to follow suit.

In a previous press interview, Ferlito recommended that Malaysia take South Korea’s lead by conducting mass screenings and introducing targeted isolation, saying Seoul had managed to achieve the best results in the shortest amount of time.

He said economic activities could be gradually restarted by identifying workers cleared of the virus.

Ferlito noted that the stimulus package, worth RM272 million, includes an allocation for financial aid for farmers and livestock producers, but he said a bigger help for them would be the restoration of the supply chain.

“However, this issue can be eased only with a gradual lifting of the MCO (movement control order), which the Selangor government has no power over,” he added.

Ferlito said Selangor should encourage employers to take responsibility in the screening of their employees by, for example, allowing a business to reopen only if all of its workers have been tested.

However, he acknowledged that the reopening of businesses would be possible only with the gradual lifting of the MCO.

In announcing the stimulus package, Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari also said the state had raised RM8.07 million by cutting the salaries of the menteri besar, state executive councillors, assemblymen and heads of state-owned companies.

He announced RM1.3 million worth of food aid for frontliners in the state, RM1.5 million for childcare assistance and RM42.5 million for improving the Skim Peduli Sihat, which will benefit 85,000 people.