DAP Member of Parliament for Kota Kinabalu Chan Foong Hin today expressed his support towards the call made by DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng to the Tourism Ministry to provide substantial financial assistance to tourism industry players in order to offset revenue losses of RM54 billion for the first 9 months of 2020.
Lim made the call during his debate on the Tourism Ministry’s budget for Budget 2021 in Parliament yesterday (8th December).
Chan, who is also the Secretary of DAP Sabah, said that the Covid-19 pandemic had severely impacted the players in the tourism industry and urged the ministry to convert up to RM94 million allocated to the ministry as development budget into cash handouts for these players.
“Right now, any spending purportedly for developing the tourism sector would be useless and off-tangent if existing players, mostly operating privately and independently from the government, could not survive the severe drop in business caused by the coronavirus in the first place. Right now, the aim should be to sustain existing players in the tourism industry first and not let them exit or give up on the industry,” said Chan.
Chan pointed towards the Budget 2021 booklet allocations under Code 80001 (Private Public Partnership / Private Finance) which has been allocated RM39 million, under Code 01400 (Facilities / Infrastructure Maintenance) which is allocated RM28 million, and under Code 94000 (Marketing and Promotion) which is allocated RM27 million.
“These three allocations total up to RM94 million which is far more than the total development allocation for 2020 amounting to RM67 million where 2020 is the year Visit Malaysia Year 2020,” said Chan.
Chan then said that there is just no justification for providing a such a huge development allocation in 2021 exceeding the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 when it provides no relief whatsoever to struggling players in the tourism industry.
Chan noted there is the RM1 billion PENJANA Tourism Financing (PTF) facility announced by the government, but it is very difficult to obtain due to strict rules imposed by banks.
“If the assistance (such as loans, moratoriums) is left to the sole discretion of financial institutions and commercial banks, then industry players especially hotels and tour operators will continue to be marginalized and they will be forced to make difficult decisions and take drastic action until they might have to give up on the tourism industry and move to a different industry, leading to an outflow of talents in the industry,” said Chan.
He concluded by saying since times are bad, it is now time to stop being stingy and start giving out cash handouts in the form of income replacement for those in the tourism industry.
“RM600 wage subsidy is definitely insufficient and I am of the view that it is fair to pay or subsidize more for workers in the tourism industry. The three provisions under code 80001, 01400, 94000 totaling to RM94 million should be converted, at least partly, into cash assistance or cash handout. Certainly it can help and provide immediate relief to entrepreneurs so that they can at least survive the pandemic first,” said Chan.