By Sharon Chang
The country loses RM2.4 billion daily throughout the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) and has already incurred an estimated RM63 billion losses since the partial lockdown came into force on March 18.
According to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the country will incur another RM35 billion losses if the MCO is extended for another month, bringing the total losses throughout the enforcement period to an estimated RM98 billion.
On May 4, after 47 days of MCO, most economic and social activities were allowed to resume. As the nation’s economy emerges from the shutdown, the days ahead will look very different, as the economy is reopening to a new normal.
As businesses are trying to get back on their feet with continuity plans, they need to adhere to the government’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) guidelines such as follow social distancing norms as a means of ensuring safe work conditions.
The fine line between health and the livelihood of the rakyat are now placed in a delicate situation as they weigh heavily against each other.
During a recent a webinar titled Embracing the New Norm: Now and Beyond MCO, industry leaders from the renewable energy, manufacturing and banking sectors discussed how businesses should transform in the new normal and seize opportunities during this pandemic.
In the session, according to Ko Chuan Zhen, Chief Executive Officer & Co-founder of Plus Solar, the pressure is real and business leaders should not sit on the side-lines as the pandemic takes a sweep across all businesses.
“No doubt, safety and health remains our top priority as people are our strongest investment,” Ko points out.
Whilst they have put in place a Covid-19 response team and encouraged the majority of their colleagues to work from home, this did not stop the company from seizing opportunities identified during this pandemic to transform their business.
“We must identify the kind of offerings that can provide real solutions for our customers in such pressing times and we recognise that sustaining overheads is a real pain for businesses with the highest costs being raw materials, human capital and electricity,” he shares.
As such, Plus Solar focuses on helping to reduce the bottom line, specifically on electricity, by providing free energy clinic consultations for businesses, to help check the building’s energy consumption and provide advice on optimum usage.
“Cost still remains a concern for solar energy investments at this time where businesses are looking to just stay afloat,” Ko remarks.
To address this the company has put in place a zero upfront investment plan for businesses – no upfront payment to install solar solutions – to enable energy cost savings upon installation and transform the way they consume electricity.
“This has drawn some attention as it is an attractive alternative for companies that are tight on cash flow, ” Ko says.
Echoing on the same sentiment, Callum Chen, Chief Executive Officer of LH Plus, said on behalf of the manufacturing and mid-tier industries, for companies to stay afloat and compete in today’s new world, business leaders need to pivot their mindset, learn to diversify and optimise their productivitiy in order to transform their business.
“Initially LH Plus only tap into the US market, but due to the concentrated risk, we expanded to Japan. This ensures our manufacturing floor is running at optimum productivity throughout the year, whether it is peak or off-peak periods,” Chen says.
Chen also point out that they adopted non-cyclical trends such as disposable medical products that do well in economic downturns, so demand for their products and services continues regardless of the state of the economy.
In additon, Christopher Yap, Managing Director, Business Banking of AmBank Group, also shared during the webinar discussion that the AmBank’s immediate efforts is to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) transform.
“The bank will be launching initiatives to assist SMEs in adapting and transforming with the new normal, for example in the areas of digitalisation and e-commerce, Yap says.
“We are also looking into other initiatives such as the deployment of SME funds, and support businesses to apply for grants and certifications from the government,” he adds.
Lastly, Ko says, “Be swift to seize the opportunities, strengthen your position with the new norm through timely transformation. Never waste a good crisis – for there are opportunities even then.”
As the economic damage has been significant, recovery is unlikely to be uniform, with different parts of the global economy moving at different speeds, however, hope remains.