Travel bans crush hopes of quick recovery, says think tank

13-Apr-2021 Intellasia | FreeMalaysiaToday | 5:02 AM Print This Post

The continued ban on both interstate and international travel means that a fast economic recovery will certainly be delayed, says an economist.

Carmelo Ferlito from the centre for Market Education said the government’s move to restrict movements and certain economic activities, as well as holding off from convening Parliament, was an overreaction to the Covid-19 situation. defying logic and not properly taking scientific evidence into account.

He said that while health authorities provided updates on the number of Covid-19 cases, there isn’t enough information about the breakdown of tests to fully comprehend the situation on the ground.

“But what is clear is that the number of new cases has not changed drastically despite the easing of restrictions.”

He said in setting policies, the government should be looking at the country’s very low fatality rate of 0.37 percent rather than the number of cases which can change depending on the number of tests carried out.

“In Malaysia, the survival rate if you get Covid-19 is 99.6%. This is a lot higher than a lot of other illnesses.

“In fact, Malaysia’s death rate from Covid-19 the proportion of cases that prove fatal ranks among the lowest compared to regional neighbours and other countries with similar population size, and is far better than the global average of 2.02%.

“When it comes to health, the government emphasizes on the need for trade-off analysis. It says the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks, but it is a different story when it comes to the economy.”

Ferlito said measures from lockdowns to continued travel restrictions are greatly damaging the economy and that the consequences such as higher debt, inflation, and so on have largely been left out of the conversation.

He said this was evident from the 2020 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth numbers of Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand.

Where the other three countries showed an improvement in their economic numbers, Ferlito said Malaysia bucked the trend.

“Clearly the risks outweigh the benefits but the government does not speak about this. So there is a great contradiction,” he said, adding the reality was there were no “zero-risk” situations in life, be it vaccines or the economy.

“If you want to look at the real costs of the restriction on jobs, just look at the data on the number of people who started doing Grab, Foodpanda, and other gig-economy jobs. Then you would know how many people more would be jobless if these jobs didn’t exist.”

He also said it was strange that travel bans remain when restrictions were being lifted.

“Children can go to school, people can go and watch football games, but we are not allowing people to travel. So areas outside of the Klang Valley and other big cities especially are going to suffer more than others, the tourism and retail sector is going to continue to suffer.

“What is the logic in allowing a mall in Selangor to be packed but not allowing people to travel to Melaka for a holiday?”

He said while it was understandable that the authorities wanted to be careful, it has to be reasonable.

“What is important is we follow the SOPs. The reality is that the long-term benefits of allowing life to go on as ‘normal’ outweigh the risks, especially when we now know what we are up against, how to prevent it, and rolling out the vaccines.”

He added that by avoiding restrictions, more resources can be invested in researching a long-term treatment beyond the vaccine.


Category: Malaysia

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