Malaysia Bagus News
Malaysia Bagus News
PETALING JAYA: Business groups are hoping Malaysia can take a leaf out of Indonesia’s book and allow companies to purchase Covid-19 vaccines for its employees in a bid to revive the economy.
Indonesia, which aims to inoculate 70% of its population (181.5 million) to achieve herd immunity by the end of the year, last week announced a health ministerial regulation permitting companies to buy vaccines for their staff and their families at private facilities in a scheme to run alongside its national vaccination programme.
Shaun Cheah, executive director of the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI), called on the government to consider allowing the private sector to “take the bull by the horns” and help the government speed up and expand vaccinations through a private sector vaccination initiative.
“It should not be a queue-jumping initiative, but to create a second queue with private sector industries purchasing vaccines for their workforce and families, (thus) complementing the government’s programme,” he said in a statement.
“Any prolonged conclusion of the vaccination programme will see Malaysia losing out on its desired position as an attractive destination for investment.
“With our neighbours having a head start, and an estimated quicker conclusion of their vaccination programme, they are ahead in attracting much needed domestic and foreign investment.
“They have already pulled away foreign investments from Malaysia,” he said.
Malaysia’s National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme is scheduled to be completed next February.
Speaking to reporters, Abdul Malik Abdullah, the pro tem president of the Business Survival Group, said he agreed with the idea to allow private companies to buy vaccines for their staff and families.
“When more people are vaccinated, the faster the economy can recover,” said Malik, who heads the coalition of 262 business associations and chambers of commerce comprising nearly one million companies.
Economist Shankaran Nambiar of the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research agreed with the proposal in principle but said it must not cut into the supplies that the government has negotiated or received through Covid-19 diplomacy.
He also maintained that any such initiative should not compete with the government’s priority list, which would then possibly deprive frontliners and those in the high-risk categories from getting vaccines.
“If private companies are willing to bear the costs of vaccinating their employees without burdening the government, that should be welcome,” he said.
“It should be viewed as an attempt to contribute to social welfare and to shoulder some part of the government’s cost burden.
“This would be particularly useful for companies that want to extend this facility to the foreign workers under their employ.”
Workplaces have contributed to an increasing number of Covid-19 clusters over the past few months, with construction sites and factories across the country among businesses forced to temporarily close because of workplace infections.
In a recent interview with health news portal Codeblue, science, technology and innovation minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the government would consider allowing companies to buy vaccines for their workers “later once the national immunisation process is under way”.
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