Stimulus programmes needed to mitigate Covid-19 economic fallout — Sheda Kuching chief

Datuk Sim Kiang Chiok

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KUCHING, Feb 13: The Malaysian government need to come up with stimulus programmes for all sectors to mitigate the economic impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, according to Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) Kuching chairman Sim Kiang Chiok.

Given the uncertainty over how long the Covid-19 situation will last, Sim pointed out that Malaysia and Sarawak must be prepared with all measures to assist in modertating the economic impact on all sectors especially those that would be hit hard.

“There are sectors which will see a direct and consequential effect from the outbreak and if the virus gets into the general population, the economic scenarios will be very bad for us,” he opined in a press statement.

Sim expected minimal impact on the construction industry in Sarawak in terms of foreign workers as many contractors relied more on Indonesian workers.

“There are also not many China contractors and workers here. I don’t see there will be a problem with workers.

“There could be problems with import of machinery from China due to the long closure of factories there,” he added.

He noted that the impact on the tourism industry in Malaysia will definitely be felt as tourism arrivals will be reduced due to travel bans, suspended flights as well as cancellation of tours and bookings following the outbreak scare.

“Tourist arrivals to Malaysia will be affected but Sarawak should be ok as last year, we recorded about 40,000 Chinese visitors to the state out of the total arrival of 4.66 million, which is only less than one per cent.

“However, the outbreak will reduce the arrivals of visitors from other countries as well. The impact will also spill over to the service industries such as restaurants, hotels and retails,” he added.

Other industries which could be impacted directly or indirectly include the export sector for timber products, durians and bird nests.

Sim commended all measures taken by the Sarawak government in preventing the virus from spreading into the state.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was reported as saying on Tuesday (Feb 11) that the government is looking at rolling out a stimulus package to assist economic sectors affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

He added that it will also look at ways to bring in more foreign travellers to help the tourism industry which has also been affected due to fewer tourists from China.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng was reported as saying the government will look at the duration and impact of the Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia before deciding on the suitable quantum for the proposed economic stimulus package.

On the timeline to introduce the proposed economic stimulus package, he added that it would be presented to the Cabinet first. — DayakDaily