KOTA KINABALU, Sept 18 — COVID-19 had brought about much hardship when its impact on the economy forced company shutdowns and loss of jobs.
Amidst this sense of uncertainty, the government has provided relief in the form of the Wage Subsidy Programme under the National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA), seen as a lifeboat for both employers and workers.
Isma Mathius Matius, expecting her third child early next year, heaved a sigh a relief when her employers said they were able to pay her full salary after the Movement Control Order (MCO) took effect in March, and she thanked the Wage Subsidy Programme for this.
Isma Mathius, 33, a general clerk at a printing and advertising shop in Tawau, said as a mother she was quite concerned if the MCO would result in her losing her job and unable to feed her family.
“Of course I’m very thankful to the government and our Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who is concerned for our well being, we hope this kind of help will continue so we can walk strong in the future,” she said when contacted by Bernama today.
Announced on March 27, the programme sees eligible employers receiving a subsidy of RM600 per employee for companies that have more than 200 employees, RM800 for 76 to 200 employees and RM1,200 for maximum 75 employees.
On June 23, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz was reported as saying that the programme, which was implemented by the government to address COVID-19 and its impact on the country’s economy, had saved 2.4 million jobs.
Fadzrul Dullie, the owner of an IT company here is one of the beneficiaries of the programme, allowing him to keep all 14 of his employees and helping his company stay afloat.
He said his company received about RM8,000 monthly to subsidise employee wages, adding that without the programme, the company would have been forced to retrench several workers.
“We are no more in a normal business environment, not as vibrant as before (COVID-19). We are doing IT development including applications that are very demanding and without the programme, we would have had to let go of several employees which could have hurt us in the long run,” he said.
Fadzrul, 41, hopes that the company, established since 2008, will be able to weather the economic storm and was also equally hopeful that the government will continue the programme, which is scheduled to stop at the end of this month.
“Business owners are very thankful but we really need the government’s help in these trying times as the banks are not really helpful currently. So we sincerely hope the government will come to our rescue,” he said.
Sarina Yunus, 28, a clerk at LK Tractor Parts in Tawau said she was only able to keep her job because of the Wage Subsidy Programme.
“With COVID-19, the economy has become unstable and anything can happen to me, my family and the company I work for. The company would have laid off employees and we would have lost our income if the government did step in with this programme,” she said.
She also hoped that the programme continues until the company’s finances were stable again.