KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 -- The Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM), represented by a total strength of close to 17,000 members in the local construction industry, has sought immediate and urgent economic support from the government.
It said many contractors are still in dire state and have been suffering due to various additional costs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, including but not limited to, high steel bar and copper prices, insufficient workers, high Act 446 compliance cost, high COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and swab test cost.
“All these costs were not factored in at the start of project, and with no provision in the COVID-19 bill to protect the contractors, we have been biting the bullet in order to ensure that projects can still be completed on time and providing job security to many workers in the industry,” it said in a statement today.
It said with the six-week total lockdown across two phases and potentially longer, many contractors cannot absorb the additional costs anymore and might fold.
In short to medium term, the industry will face shortages of contractors and may lead to overall price escalation.
Therefore, the MBAM hopes that the government will soon announce and roll out additional stimulus package to assist the economy and people to cushion the impact.
Among its suggestions are the automatic moratorium extension for people and businesses starting from June 1; financial assistance and low interest financing rates to provide financial aid to businesses; tax break for businesses and provide utilities subsidies throughout the total lockdown period; and wage subsidy programme for all employees with the salary of RM 4,000 and below.
Additionally, it said the government should look into a free mass COVID-19 testing for every single person nationwide to trace and break the COVID-19 chain.
The association said the vaccination rate for the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme must also be expedited with the assistance of private hospitals and clinics.
“The government has been trying to strike to balance between the economy and livelihoods of the people.
“However, in reality, the Malaysian construction industry would need direct money injection into businesses immediately as an effective measure to ensure the industry is sustainable,” it added.
MBAM also appealed for the government to defer and not introduce any other new policies during this trying period that will further increase the cost of doing business.
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