Help us save jobs, Matta pleads

PETALING JAYA: The government has been urged to bear 60% of employees’ salaries and allow the private sector to temporarily stop mandatory contributions to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) said this was necessary to avoid mass retrenchment that could effectively cost millions of jobs, particularly those in the tourism sector, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Matta Datuk Tan Kok Liang (pix) noted that the industry currently employs over 3.5 million people of the overall 15 million in the country’s workforce, and that if such assistance was not forthcoming, the majority of tourism companies could be forced to cease operations.

“For this month, we have an estimated 90% drop in revenue and we expect the revenue from April to May to be practically zero.

“These requests may seem unreasonable, but we are now in extraordinary circumstances.

“The key point here is to protect jobs. Businesses cannot be expected to keep paying employees when there is little to no income. It’s either close shop or lose jobs,” he said in a statement today.

On absorbing salaries of staff, Tan suggested that the government assist in paying 60% of the wages of employees up to RM4,000 a month, for a period of six months.

He noted that several other countries have also started such employee extension initiatives, with nations like the United Kingdom and Denmark offering to pay up to 80% of wages.

Tan added that apart from exempting employers from temporarily contributing to EPF, employees should be similarly exempted until the end of the year.

“This is to allow employers to better manage their cash flow, and for workers to have more cash for living expenses,” he said.

In addition, Tan said the mandatory contribution by employers to the Human Resources Development Fund should also be suspended temporarily.

“This should also be extended to other levy payments such as Social Security Organisation (Socso), Employment Injury Scheme (EIS), as well as immediate deferment of corporate and individual taxes for the 2019 assessment year,” he said.