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The decision to open the economy sparked various views

The government’s decision to reopen 11 economic activities in the state under Phase 1 of the National Recovery Plan (VAT) starting today has raised various views between the business sector and health experts.

From a business standpoint, industry players struggling to continue their survival agreed to the reopening but it was not agreed upon by health experts.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the decision was made after considering the risk analysis conducted by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) as well as discussions with stakeholders in their respective trades.

All 11 activities are car wash centers, electrical and electronics stores, household goods and kitchen equipment stores, furniture stores, sports equipment stores, car accessories stores, car distribution and sales centers, morning markets and farmers markets only, clothing stores, fashion and accessories, jewelery shop and barber shop and beauty center/salon (basic barber services only).

Former health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye believes it is not the right time to reopen the economic sector when only half the population is receiving at least the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

“While 16% have registered but have not been vaccinated, 13% of adults have registered and another 20% are under 18 years old.

“When we give relaxation too early, those who have not been vaccinated will be affected and experience a high death rate as well as being infected more seriously. We have to wait for at least those who have registered to receive the vaccine before opening the economic sector, ”he said.

“If we speed up the vaccination rate, we can reach the target within three weeks,” he said.

He added that the decision to reopen the economy should be based on risk assessment.

“Some sectors that involve a minimum number of employees or customers or are in an open environment should be allowed to reopen with the proper standard operating procedures (SOPs),” he said.

Business Continuity Group Advisor Ameer Ali Mydin thanked the government for listening to the grievances of industry players and allowing more sectors to reopen in the state under Phase 1.

“This will definitely be able to re-stimulate the country’s economy because the industry in the state under Phase 1 is the largest contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)”.

However, he said the government should also allow the supplier network to operate.

“For example, if you allow a clothing store to reopen, you also have to give permission for a textile factory to reopen. If not, how does this store want to get their ingredients? ”

The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Samenta) urged the government to review existing SOPs to be more consistent and reflect the realities of operations.

In a statement, Samenta Chairman William Ng proposed that the four SOPs be revised.

“First, we reiterate the call for no more distinction between needs and non -needs businesses and the decision to reopen the economy is based solely on capacity, ability to implement and enforce social incarceration and safe operating guidelines as well as vaccination status of employees, customers and visitors.

“Second, we urge the government to revise the SOPs and reopening guidelines that reflect operational parameters rather than the phased approach announced. We propose to allow all sectors including manufacturing, construction and retail to reopen with 80% capacity when 80% of its employees complete two doses.

“Thirdly, given that there are various SOPs, we urge the government to immediately instruct all enforcement agencies to implement a negotiated approach in enforcing SOPs. Businesses cannot continue to be fined for delays and minor mistakes that do not bring that to employees, customers or visitors.

“Fourth, we once again urge the government to have an agency or contact center to coordinate the issuance of permits and letters of approval to operate instead of asking us to go to the ministry concerned.”

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