KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Harapan (PH) de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is proposing that the government allow Sales and Services Tax (SST) exemptions for all sectors until June 2020 in light of the Covid-19 outbreak.
He also said SST exemption for sectors directly affected by the pandemic should be extended until year-end.
Anwar said it was high time for Putrajaya to take certain measures to cushion the economic impact on the people.
He also proposed that cash flow assistance be provided for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are impacted by supply chain disruptions; and loan forbearance offered by banks to low-income households that are coping with late mortgage payments.
“The economic stimulus measures introduced by the then finance minister Lim Guan Eng were released before the second wave of Covid-19 infections.
“These initiatives need to be extended if we are to ensure that viable businesses - especially SMEs - can weather the crisis.
“Evidence indicates that the most efficient method to maintain social welfare during this type of economic disruption is via direct cash transfers.
“Building on the measures in the existing stimulus, the Finance Ministry should increase Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) payment for May 2020 and consider additional one-off cash payments for all BSH-eligible households.
“I also encourage the issuance of employment insurance to be available for employees who are forced to go on unpaid leave, focusing on sectors directly impacted by Covid-19,” he said.
Anwar also called on the government to enforce stronger rules to enhance social distancing, including making a clear decision on halting public gatherings as well as suspending schools and religious observances for some time.
Aside from that, he said employers, both in the civil service and private sector should assist their employees by implementing work-from-home policy as much as possible.
“We must give serious consideration to closing non-essential commercial and retail outlets for a period to control the rapid spread of infection.
“We should encourage the use of e-commerce and e-delivery platforms to keep people away from public spaces.
“Additional foreign travel restrictions need to be adopted as the virus manifests and spreads in other countries.”
Anwar said it would be prudent for the government to increase the RM20 billion economic stimulus package which was announced by former interim prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad last month, considering that the second wave of Covid-19 has reached Malaysia.
“Let me be clear. It is the government’s responsibility to undertake these measures and the burden should not be passed to the public.”
The PKR president also urged all politicians, especially those from the ruling Perikatan Nasional pact to stop their politicking during these troubled times.
He called on the government to emulate other countries’ efforts in managing their exposure and risk to Covid-19.
“On the contrary, I sense a lack of urgency, focus and decisiveness by the new Cabinet in addressing the health and economic crisis we face.
“I urge the Prime Minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) to stop focusing on the political manoeuvrings of his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and devote his full attention to the crisis affecting the people,” he said.