LETTER | Budget 2021 a letdown for business events industry

Francis Teo


LETTER | The Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (Maceos) viewed the recent Budget 2021 as a let-down for its lack of allocation for the business events industry.

It was disappointing that zero allocation was given to help the recovery efforts, protect jobs, and support the small- and medium-sized enterprises in our industry.

The lack of financial support is a huge blow to industry players currently struggling to stay afloat. Losses in revenue were estimated at RM2.25 billion, a drop of 90 per cent since March when the movement control order was imposed, and all business events were prohibited.

In addition, a total of 5,610 employees had been laid off due to the pandemic, an equivalent to 17 per cent of the total industry workforce.

Not only is there a lack of financial support, but as long as no business events are allowed to be held under the areas of the conditional MCO and borders remain closed, the industry will not be able to sustain for much longer.

Business events are highly-controlled, carefully managed environments with stringent safety and security protocols in place. We ask that the government allow business events to re-open. The National Security Council has approved the standard operating procedures for business events. We can adjust participant numbers according to alert levels and venue size.

Maceos has submitted several proposals to the government for relaxed taxation, access to financing, and financial subsidies. Among them were:

  • Extend the sales and service tax exemption to purpose-built convention and exhibition centres

  • Extend the wage subsidy programme until June 2021 with the inclusion of those earning RM6,000 and below

  • Extend the loan moratorium until June 2021

  • Double-tax deduction to support industry players in their business transformation towards event digitalisation

  • Interest-free soft loans to help businesses to finance their digital software and hardware investment so that they can pivot to providing virtual event services for both domestic and international clients.

I hope the government will reconsider the distribution of financial assistance and provision of incentives to help our industry which has demonstrated its potential as a catalyst for economic growth in the past.

The writer is president of Maceos.

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