PENANG: The Covid-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and currently the greatest challenge affecting everyone worldwide.
The pandemic has put many countries into a standstill mode. Every nation needs to create a fine balance between the healthcare of its citizens and the sustainability of its economy.
Inevitably there will be casualties. The Penang state government is mindful of the unintended economic consequences especially in the financial position of businesses and its people during this period.
The State has taken and will continue to initiate proactive countermeasures to mitigate and soften the undesirable consequences of the pandemic, said Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow via a press statement.
“Penang with its rich industrial experience will be fundamental in helping the economy navigate through this unprecedented time.
“Over the past 50 years, our E&E industry has clearly evolved and diversified its businesses and product portfolio.
“Given the strength of Penang in this industry, we are equipped to further breakthrough into the next phase of manufacturing technologies, innovative tools and products entering the next normal, all of which will encourage new businesses and augur well for our local supply chain.
“Our medical device industry, a spin-off from our E&E industry has also flourished over the past decade. We have been attracting global medical players into Penang and this has created a strong platform and capacity for diversification.
“This current worldwide need for Covid-19 medical supplies, products and equipment will open avenues for Penang in this segment and create new business and employment opportunities.”
Strengthen food security
The state will also look into strengthening our food security by expanding our existing hub on food production, agriculture and fisheries resources.
The digital economy will continue to generate new possibilities to accelerate development by increasing business efficiency and productivity, widening access to existing and new markets that will benefit SMEs in Penang and cultivate technology-related entrepreneurship to support the ecosystem.
“With that in mind, Penang being a strong manufacturing location for infrastructures that supports e-commerce, clouds, virtual and telecommunications will also inevitably provide some cushioning effect to offset other severely impacted industries.
“Through Digital Penang, the State together with technology players and IT specialists will explore new technological solutions as part of the “Next Normal Strategies” and implement economic reforms by encouraging the use of digital platforms in the economic sector.
“As we find ways to maximize employment, special focus will also be given to those whose jobs are affected due to this period of uncertainty.
“The state government, via Penang Career Assistance and Talent Centre (CAT Centre), is ready to offer job-matching facilitation, connect those affected with potential hiring companies and help redeploy them into occupations where there is labour demand. Opportunities in career changes, upscaling and building new skillsets will be the new agenda in ensuring our workforce remain relevant.” He added.
Survival of SMEs is crucial
Federal and State governments are sensitive to the fact that the survival of our SMEs is crucial, which accounts for the majority of employment in the country.
Apart from the Federal’s financial assistance, the Penang government has also rolled out its RM30 million Penang Business Continuity Loan Scheme to aid SMEs in their current financial woes.
The state government has always regarded the SME sector as a partner in the development of Penang and will never forsake this sector especially during difficult times.
“As part of the mitigating measures for the currently enforced MCO, all State offices and agencies have been directed to work together with and assist industries and businesses to return to their normal operations as quickly as possible through the means of transparent policies, fast track approvals and permits and streamlining process.
“The health of our citizens is vital to the health of our economy – both are interlinked. As we move towards the “next normal” post Covid-19, through our dedicated local authorities, we will continue to enforce compliance with Standard Operating Procedures, health protocols as well as ensuring hygiene is always maintained for a cleaner and healthier Penang.
“The Penang state government will remain vigilant in monitoring the Covid-19 situation, with emphasis on its effects on public health, social well-being and economic implications.
“With the inherent strength and versatility of this State and its People, we will be able to ride through this wave. Tough times will only make us stronger.”