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22 May 2021  (801 Views) 
Covid-19 crisis

Retailers call for a return to circuit breaker
The retailers are calling for a return to the circuit breaker (CB) that was introduced a year ago. They do not like the Heightened Alert (HA) that the government coined to describe the current restrictions.

What difference does that make? What is the difference between the circuit full CB and the HA version?

The retailers remembered that CB is accompanied by the financial relief provided by the government - rental relief and job support scheme.  They fear that HA does not come with these reliefs.

The retailers also fear that they cannot survive long with the HA. They have to close their operations and lay off many of their workers. 

The government is reluctant to re-introduce the financial assistance under the initial circuit breaker phase. They have already spent over $100 billion in financial relief. This amounts to more than five years of the annual budget surplus.

Worse, the financial assistance did not solve the problem. We face the same challenges as a year earlier. Indeed, the situation is worse, in my opinion. (But other observers may disagree).

What can the government do? Should they listen to the retailers or ignore them? 

The same problem is faced in other sectors of the economy. It is not confined to the retailers only.

There is still a solution that is available to the government. It should help the retailers to stay in business and keep the workers employed, although with a reduced pay and help these workers cope with a reduction in pay.

I gave this suggestion a year ago, at the start of the circuit breaker. It was not heard by the government at that time, as they felt that the financial relief would solve the economic challenges. 

It is now time for the government to consider my suggestion. It is:

a) Allow companies to put their workers on reducing working hours and reduce the pay according.

b) Allow the workers who suffer a pay cut to apply to take out their CPF savings (or to take a government loan) to meet their living expenses.

c) Allow the business to apply for a government loan to meet their rental and salary expenses.

My views were given in these posts a year ago.
This solution is still available to the government to tide over the extended period that is needed for the global economy to recover from the covid pandemic.

Tan Kin Lian

Vote - do you agree with my suggestion?


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