Government urged to extend wage subsidy programme

KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism industry stakeholders pleaded with the government for an extension of the wage subsidy programme (PSU) in the wake of the second phase of the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said this was necessary to sustain the survival of the industry.

"With MCO, businesses are again expected to lose revenue streams, and the tourism industry would be severely affected because of the ban on interstate travel nationwide — many have lost jobs last year, while the rest are either on a pay cut or unpaid leave.

"In comparison with March 2020 we are in a worse situation now and we are expecting a bigger impact. The government must take immediate action to protect the industries in order to protect the people," he said in a statement.

Yap said MAH urged the government to extend their proposed wage subsidy structure of 50 per cent for employees within the pay structure of below RM4,000, and 30 per cent for those up to RM8,000.

"Industries need this to sustain, or we will be forced to retrench our workers.

"With little or no revenue, businesses will not be able to retain workers or pay salaries," he said.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents president Datuk Tan Kok Liang echoed Yap's sentiment and requested the government to extend the PSU and loan moratorium.

"PSU will end in March, but looking at the situation, we hope it will be extended. It will give us some peace of mind. We also hope the loan moratorium will be extended.

"We had hoped for a better 2021, but instead tourism players will have a hard year ahead. We will need to review our business plans, rescale or consolidate operations.

"The future of the travel industry would need to live with the new norms and uncertainty — therefore there must be a comprehensive plan for us," he said.

Malaysia Budget Hotel Association deputy president Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel hopes the government would act fast towards the issues that would be faced by the tourism industry players.

"It is only two weeks, but it will give a huge impact on the recovery period for hotels.

"We fully understand the need for MCO, but government should also understand the issues we are facing."