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Thread: PSM Michael Jeyakumar: Put more emphasis on helping workers in current recession

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    PSM Michael Jeyakumar: Put more emphasis on helping workers in current recession

    Recession is HERE, measures needed now
    Fauwaz Abdul Aziz | Dec 2, 08 4:20pm

    The government should not wait until the economy fulfills all the technical requirements of a recession before taking emergency measures to alleviate the plight of Malaysians, said Parti Sosialis Malaysia.

    "We are in a recession now, and the government really has to do something about it,” PSM central committee member and Sungai Siput member of parliament Dr Michael D Jeyakumar told a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

    The government stated on Saturday that Malaysia is likely to escape a recession - defined as negative economic growth for two consecutive quarters - next year, and post 3.5% growth despite the global financial crisis, due to strong consumer demand and public spending.

    Jeyakumar said “the financial crisis has hit the real economy,” and cited news reports of the impending retrenchment of hundreds of thousands of Malaysian workers within and outside country - 300,000 in Singapore alone - and the reduction or complete stoppage of overtime work in hundreds of factories within Malaysia.

    He said in his own state of Perak, he knows of factories that have slashed their operations to four-day working weeks, some operate for only two weeks a month, and others have even closed shop due to the lack of orders.

    “The sale of electronic goods, of hardware especially, such as computers and cars, have dropped,” he added.

    Don’t use funds for Umno contractors

    Malaysia's top trading partner neighbouring Singapore and Asia's largest economy Japan are already in a recession.

    To tackle the fallout from the imminent retrenchment of workers, Jeyakumar called for the federal government to use the RM7 billion it announced as part of an economic stimulus package to create jobs that would directly benefit workers.

    This would be contrary to any plans the Barisan Nasional-led government may have to channel the funds merely to the small pool of businessmen and contractors who are linked to Umno or the other BN coalition parties, said Jeyakumar, who noted the upcoming party elections in March next year.

    By channeling the fund directly to the Public Works Department, the state housing boards, local councils and other such bodies, jobs could be created to employ Malaysians who find themselves out of work due to diminishing market demands and the global economic meltdown, he said.

    Reiterating a proposal that had been made earlier, Jeyakumar said a RM500 million retrenchment fund should be set up immediately which can be used for workers whose employers abscond without paying their employees retrenchment benefits.

    Need for a food-stamp regime

    He said this is a paltry sum compared to the RM5 billion of workers’ money from the Employers’ Provident Fund (EPF) that will be injected into ValueCap Sdn Bhd to bolster under-invested companies.

    He added that PSM also proposes the government lease out 2-3 acres of government land to workers who find themselves unemployed, while idle private land belonging whose owners cannot afford to develop their property due to the recession can be ‘borrowed out’ to the retrenched.

    Also at the press conference was PSM secrety-general S Arutchelvan, who said that because food is a basic right, the party is also proposing that the government put into place a food-stamp regime to ensure that everybody has enough to eat.

    To tackle the precarious situation of workers generally, however, “the issue of foreign workers cannot be addressed without addressing the government’s cheap labour policy,” said Aruthelvan, who is also Kajang municipal councillor.

    Deal with foreign workers humanely

    As employers prefer to employ foreign workers as they are cheaper than local hires, the tendency to turn to foreign recruitment agencies will remain as long as there is no decent minimum wage policy in place, he said.

    Foreign workers should be encouraged, meanwhile, to return to their home countries by means of incentives such as free flight tickets and other benefits along the lines of ‘voluntary separation schemes’ practiced by corporations, Arutchelvan added.

    On the same matter, Jeyakumar said while the government may say it was no longer issuing new permits for recruitment agencies to import foreign workers, these agencies may seek to use up their existing “unfulfilled” quotas to continuing to bring in labourers.

    As such, there should be an automatic “freezing” of foreign labour importation, he said. In the event that the government decides to repatriate foreign workers, all efforts should be made to ensure the latter are humanely treated, said Jeyakumar.

    Arutchelvan also said that if the government and financial institutions could be so gracious to corporations as to give them financial concessions during times of crisis as was seen during the 1997 financial crisis, the same treatment should be meted out to the working classes.

    The loans of the working classes should be renegotiated and restructured for those who are encountering difficulties in servicing their housing, vehicles or other purchases.

    Jeyakumar also advised the government against reducing corporate tax from the current 27 percent, as it would find it difficult later on to return to this level when better times come around.

    Lower corporate tax will mean less revenue for the government and will lead to either higher fees for essential services or to new forms of tax such as the Goods and Sales Tax (GST), said Jeyakumar.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Deputy Finance Minister says: Global economic crisis hardly affects Malaysia

    Global economic crisis hardly affects Malaysia, says Kong

    KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 ? Malaysia is only feeling the minimum impact of the
    global economic crisis and financial meltdown, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk
    Kong Cho Ha told the Dewan Negara today.

    Reaffirming the country's economic fundamentals were sound and strong, Kong
    said Malaysia has not been directly exposed to the full impact of the global
    financial crisis.

    "It is only feeling the pinch indirectly from the minimum impact of the
    sub-prime mortgage crisis cushioned by the strong domestic economy," he said
    when replying to a supplementary question from Senator Maijol Mahap during
    question time.

    He said the country's national reserves were still strong at 37 per cent of
    the Gross National Product, a clear indication of the nation's surplus
    liquidity that can be financed to generate economic activities.

    The country's banking sector was also stable, with the non-performing loan
    rate at 2.4 per cent and the risk weighted capital ratio at 12.6 per cent,
    far above the eight per cent limit of the international standard, he said. ?

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