PETALING JAYA, Sept 8: The country’s largest employer group has welcomed former finance minister Lim Guan Eng’s proposals to keep the number of unemployed Malaysians below one million, which would still be the highest in the nation’s history.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said Lim’s proposals might assist both individuals and businesses, especially the SMEs.

“This could enable them to continue with their businesses in the challenging business environment due to the pandemic,” Shamsuddin said.

Lim, who is DAP secretary-general, called for “immediate implementation” of a proposal to raise monthly welfare aid from RM200-RM300 to RM1,000; extend the loan moratorium by six months from Sept 30; and for the provision of hiring and work incentives amounting to RM500 a month for employees and RM300 for employers.

He calculated the total “bill” of his proposals to amount to RM31.4 billion.

Shamsuddin said that employers could utilise the incentive by providing training and retraining to equip workers, with visits to or collaboration with educational institutions to be informed on the latest trends in the industry and expectations of the talents required.

However, Centre for Market Education Malaysia CEO Carmelo Ferlito has raised concerns regarding the impact of the initiatives on economic growth.

“These initiatives are financed via borrowing, which means shifting the economic burden to future generations and it seems to me that the proposed measures do not address the core problems experienced by Malaysia in the current scenario,” he told FMT.

He doubted that the hiring scheme would radically change the composition of the workforce by attracting locals to accept jobs they regard as only a last resort.

“The relationship between 3-D jobs (dangerous, dirty and difficult) and Malaysian manpower is not only influenced by money but also by the nature of the job, expectations and career prospects.

“I think that to imagine a Malaysia free of foreign workers will be a costly utopia, which will bring many manufacturing firms to close for good, which means also firing the local workforce. I have already witnessed these situations.”

He said that jobs that are created with “artificially created money” are a temporary solution.

“They are sustainable only when the subsidies are in place; moreover, the newly created purchasing power could create other temporary positive effects, but once the stimuli are withdrawn then the entire castle falls like dominos and the post-stimuli situation may turn out to be worse than it was before.”


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