RM10 Billion Stimulus Much Needed Lifeline For SME, Says MATTA

KUALA LUMPUR, 7 April 2020 – The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) welcomes the additional RM10 billion for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) under the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package, announced by the Prime Minister on 6 April 2020 as a positive move by the government to help cushion the impact of the covid-19 which has had a severe impact on SMEs especially tourism businesses.

This additional assistance includes the wage subsidy programme which has been increased into three tiers:

• RM 600 for companies that employ more than 200 people
• RM 800 for companies that employ between 76-200 employees
• RM 1200 for companies that employ between 1-76 employees

MATTA President Datuk Tan Kok Liang says “The majority of travel and tour companies are in the third tier with less than 76 employees and the new wage subsidy tiering will help to ease company cash flow problems and help retain more employees.”

“In addition, MATTA also welcomes the decision by government to urge leasing companies to offer a six-month moratorium similar to that provided by banks. This is a much needed relief because based on feedback many leasing companies are still asking for repayments because they do not fall in the same category as banks. A six-month moratorium for leasing companies will help many tourism businesses, travel agencies who own tourism vehicles in particular, tide over this difficult period when business and income are virtually nil.”

A recent survey conducted by MATTA amongst its members have already indicated a retrenchment rate of close to 30% of the travel agency workforce over the coming months it is expected that it will take more than a year for tourism to fully recover from the global Covid-19 crisis. To date 40% of travel agency employees have been asked to take unpaid leave and nearly 40% have had to accept pay cuts with many travel businesses considering closing their doors within the next two months.

“MATTA is seeking that the government could reassess the wage subsidy programme to allow it for 6 months or more because the tourism industry will take much longer to recover post Covid-19.”

“In our earlier submissions to the government, MATTA had also asked that the private sector be allowed to stop contributions to agencies such as the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), SOCSO and payment for income tax for a six-month period.”

“We hope the government can consider these requests to help the private sector survive over this difficult period. These similar requests were also submitted by other SMEs organisations.”

“MATTA is very thankful for the assistance provided thus far, but much more can be done to help the travel and tour companies, and other stakeholders in the tourism industry. A targeted stimulus package for the tourism industry is urgently needed to ensure that we have the capacity to rebound once things begin to normalise.”

“MATTA will continue to engage and, with whatever resources it has, will work hand-in-hand with the government towards rebuilding the tourism industry”, concluded Tan.

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