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Over 2,000 hotel staff laid off, hotels need more help

KUALA LUMPUR (March 27): The Malaysian Hotel Association (MAH) in response to the Prihatin Economic Stimulus Package announced today said the hotel industry “needs a little bit more help”, as it disclosed that as of now, 2,041 hotel employees in the country have already been laid off due to economic pressures and the extended movement control order (MCO) in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association said that apart from those who have been laid off, 9,773 staff are on unpaid leave and another 5,054 had suffered pay cuts. “This number is based on a sampling size of 56,299 and is set to grow over the next few months,” it added.

New initiatives under the Caring or Prihatin Economic Stimulus Package are very much focused on the people right at the end of the chain, but the industries directly affected may need more, said the association.

“The three-month payroll subsidy of RM600 per month for employees earning below RM4,000 a month is needed, but it is below what we expected. The hotel industry has earlier proposed a minimum of RM1,000 per employee, or a minimum amount equivalent to 50% of an employee’s monthly pay for a period of six months.

“A much lower occupancy rate has been projected for the coming months looking at the situation worldwide,” it added.

“We are looking at an average occupancy of nothing more than 25% in June, and that is if the Movement Control Order (MCO) ends on 14 April with the spread of the virus under control,” MAH President Kamaruddin Bahrain explained. 

He added that recovery is not expected until the third quarter, with the industry putting hopes in the year-end holidays to ease up accumulated losses in the year.

Meanwhile, MAH welcomes the multi-level discount increases for electricity based on consumption, but reminds the Federal Government to ensure the same is being extended to Sabah and Sarawak, where energy is managed separately and not by Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB).

The association also continues to stress on the call for banks to waive interests on top of the moratorium, and to reduce employers’ EPF contribution. “Instead, employers are encouraged to consult EPF on restructuring, rescheduling or postponement of contributions from April 15 onwards,” it said. 

“We will need to work with what is given now, and we will continue to engage and update the government on the situation on the ground, if the initiatives are helping or if hotels are still forced to close given such unprecedented economic pressures,” Kamaruddin noted. 

“The world is still in a partial lockdown condition and there is no light at the end of the tunnel for tourism until a cure or vaccine is found,” he added.

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