KUALA LUMPUR (May 31): Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) seeks for immediate and urgent economic support from the government as the nation goes into full movement control order (FMCO) from June 1 until June 14.

“We 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 SOP and swab test cost,” says the association representing 17,000 members of Malaysia’s construction industry.

“With the six weeks total lockdown across two phases and potentially longer, many contractors cannot absorb the additional costs anymore and might fold. In the short to medium term, the industry will face shortages of contractors and lead to overall price escalation.” 

In a press statement today, MBAM lauded the government's move in allowing critical maintenance and repair works and critical construction work for major public infrastructure to operate during the FMCO period. However, it urged the government to announce additional stimulus packages to cushion the economic impact for the betterment of the economy and its people. 

Some of MBAM suggestions for financial aid includes:
- Automatic moratorium extension for people and businesses starting from June 1, 2021.
- 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.
- Wage subsidy programme for all employees with a salary of RM 4,000 and below.
- Speedy payment for government projects to be made especially for the month of May 2021 at all tiers to ease cash flow of the construction industry.
- Waiver of levy for foreign workers renewing their work permits and extension of permit approval for those stuck in their home country who are unable to enter during lockdown and for those who will be overstaying due to the movement restriction imposed. It is hoped that the Immigration Department of Malaysia can consider the waiver of fees for special passes due to overstaying during the lockdown period.
- Extension of the Temporary Measures for Reducing the Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Act 2020. The COVID-19 Bill must also protect contractors and to expressly state the provision for extension of time (EOT) and cost sharing between contracting parties. Contractors should also be allowed to ask for compensation from project owners.

To flatten the curve, MBAM also suggested the government provide free mass Covid-19 testing nationwide with the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme to expedite with assistance from private hospitals and clinics.

Meanwhile, the Association appeals to the government to defer and not introduce new policies during the challenging period as it will further increase the cost of doing business.

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