Lift MCO or risk more damage to economy, says international business group

The Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry says a prolonged MCO can lead to irreversible damage to the economy, education and employment.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) has urged the government to lift the movement control order (MCO) immediately to allow the economy to be rejuvenated and ensure continued employment.

Its president Tan Cheng Kiat lauded the efforts by the government and health ministry to tackle Covid-19 and put in place the MCO to arrest the spread of the virus.

However, he said, now was the time for the country to move forward based on facts, and this included the “extremely low” mortality rate from Covid-19 in the country.

In a statement, Tan said nearly all those who died had underlying medical conditions.

At the same time, he said, the people had accepted the “new normal” of social distancing, hygiene practices and working from home.

“Given the facts that we know now, a prolonged MCO will have far more damage to the country’s well-being than the epidemic itself given that the death rate is exponentially lower than existing non-communicable diseases or even the common flu,” he said.

He said a prolonged MCO could lead to irreversible damage to the country’s fiscal health, investor confidence, education and potential employment of more than a million people.

This would worsen an already challenging economy and the country’s ability to earn revenue.

“By prolonging the MCO, the herd immunity of the people and the country’s financial strength will be severely impaired. Imagine when the second wave comes, with a revenue-starved treasury, our healthcare services may not be able to cope,” he said.

Tan said misdirected populist cash handouts and encouraging businesses to rack up more debts was not sustainable.

“Wage subsidy programmes will not guarantee sustained employment as, without business revenue, promises of no employee terminations will be meaningless,” he added.

The fourth phase of the MCO is scheduled to end on May 12.

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