: Economists have welcomed the government’s decision to reopen several selected sectors of the economy in stages during the extended Movement Control Order (MCO) based on healthcare guidelines and strict movement control.
Bank Islam chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid cited the manufacturing sector as one of the sectors that should be focused by the government as it accounts for 85 per cent of the country’s exports and imports.
“While such an announcement is positive to the economy, strict adherence to the MCO measures such as regular sanitisation and social distancing must be closely scrutinised by law enforcement officers.
“So, this is the main challenge, as the government needs to tread on a tight rope between health and the economy.
“As it is now, priority number one is health and therefore, the level of scrutiny cannot be compromised at all,” he told Bernama today.
While concurring with Mohd Afzanizam on the need to give due consideration to the manufacturing sector, Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd economist Izuan Ahmad said more emphasis should be given to the export-oriented segment, as its non-operation has affected businesses and their financial sustainability.
“It is an important decision by the government to consider commencement of operation for certain economic sectors, as the extended MCO could pose further adverse impact on sectors classified as ‘non-essential services’.
“As such, the export-oriented manufacturing sector should be allowed to operate (albeit under tight and strict control) to ensure the negative impact from prolonged MCO would not further disrupt the sector,” he added.
Meanwhile, SME Association of Malaysia board member Datuk Jalilah Baba said the proposed reopening of several selected economic sectors were the best decision as the country has not yet fully stabilised from the COVID-19 impact.
“We have no other way except to continue the MCO if we want our country to be completely free from COVID-19.
“Recent figures show positive development in terms of the number of patients who have recovered. This MCO should be continued to ensure that we are fully recovered,” she said.
On which sectors which should be allowed to reopen, Jalilah said the government should consider reopening the sectors related to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), especially those involving food, medical services and logistics.
However, she said these sectors needed to be reopened under strict conditions, in line with the MCO guidelines, with specific operations and schedules in place to ensure that the government's main objective to eradicate COVID-19 is successful.
In a live broadcast today, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said a special cabinet committee co-chaired by two senior ministers, namely International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob would be set up to study the list of selected economic sectors to be reopened.
“The country’s economy has been affected by the curbs on enterprises, manufacturing and trading activities throughout the MCO period.
“However, I would like to stress that the opening of a limited number of sectors does not mean we will relax the MCO.
“The order is still in force and all directives issued by the authorities must be obeyed,” the Prime Minister said, adding that if the selected enterprises, factories or companies broke the rules, the permission given to them would be revoked.