KUCHING: Kuching Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCGCCI) urges the government to take unprecedented measures to avoid massive unemployment following the closure of businesses as a result of the extended movement control order (MCO).

Its secretary-general Jonathan Chai Voon Tok hoped that the government would emulate the British government in paying for 80 percent of wages for workers when businesses were asked to shut down to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“The British government has faced huge pressure to intervene and support workers to prevent mass unemployment, as anti-virus measures have seen many firms’ revenues evaporate almost overnight.

“Such a wage package would at least ease the burden on businesses and their employees,” he said yesterday.

He described yesterday’s announcement of the MCO extension for another two weeks until April 14 as devastating news to the business community.

“Just imagine the businesses which have to pay for rent and salaries for their employees, but have no income generated during the MCO period,” Chai lamented.

He said that while KCGCCI appreciated the importance of measures to contain the outbreak of Covid-19, the government had to take steps to help businesses overcome this difficult time.

In addition, he urged the government to put measures in place to help self-employed individuals, especially hawkers who were badly impacted by the MCO.

He hoped that the government would provide direct financial pay-out or cash subsidies to the people instead of asking the people to withdraw from their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) savings.

The federal government had announced that EPF contributors below the age of 55 would be allowed to withdraw RM500 per month from their second account for a period of 12 months.