No specific aid under Pemulih for hotel operators badly hit by pandemic

THE government’s latest RM150 billion aid package for the rakyat – Pemulih –  did not address the specific needs of the tourism and hotel industry.

John Teo, chairman of the Malaysian Association of Hotels, said although Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin mentioned that tourism was one of the most impacted sectors in the pandemic, there were not enough measures for them.

He said the three-month extension of 10% discount on electricity bills from October to December for affected economic sectors, including hotel operators, is insufficient considering that the average occupancy was only 20% due to various travel restrictions.

He said the key highlight of the initiative would be the extension of the Wage Subsidy Program, which subsidises RM600 per worker for four months.

“But, we need the government to clarify if hotel operators are among the sectors categorised in the negative list during the third phase. Our businesses are heavily impacted and we hope the government will look this issue,” he said.

The removal of the salary cap of RM4,000 for the subsidy is however much welcomed, as it allows employers to leverage on the subsidy for all levels of its employees now.

It is also unclear if the hotel operators are entitled for the Human Resource Development Corporation (HRD Corp) two-month levy exemption as it is stated that it was only for employers that were not operating during the Movement Control Order, he said.

“Although the government has recognised the impact on the tourism industry, the one-off financial assistance of RM3,000 is only offered to travel & tour operators. All hotel operators are not included despite having suffered heavy losses and cash flow burden.”

“We also hope the bank loan moratorium is interest-free, otherwise, those who applied for it will fall into deeper debts.”