Singapore— Hasni Mohammad, the Chief Minister of Johor, said on Sunday (Oct 11) that he will be laying forth his plan before the Economic Action Council in Putrajaya next Monday (Oct 19) for the complete reopening of the land borders between Singapore and Johor Bahru and resume revenues from taxes.
Malaysia has suffered the loss of a significant amount of tax revenue due to the greatly reduced number of Malaysians regularly commuting between the countries he said.
Mr Hasni made these remarks at the Asia International Innovation Exhibition in Pulai Springs, Johor.
“We need to explain why the measure is necessary as we cannot continue to be in this situation as many of our people are affected, similarly the business sector as well.
The Malaysia-Singapore border is one of the world’s busiest crossings. The tax collected on our side of the Causeway and Second Link contribute to 50 per cent of the Customs Department revenue,” said the Chief Minister.
“The closing of the border has directly impacted the lives of many who live in Johor Bahru and are unable to commute to Singapore daily for work or errands. Putrajaya must make a decision immediately as we cannot be in this position for much longer,” he added.
Before the pandemic struck, there were about 300,000 Malaysians who travelled to Singapore for work every day. A full lockdown in March shut down travel between the two countries. In August, a bilateral agreement allowed up to 2,000 people on essential business to cross from Malaysia daily. Travellers, however, still need to be tested for Covid-19 and quarantined at dedicated centers for one week.
Since the border closed, Mr Hasni said, “We could feel the direct effect when many residents living in Johor Baru could not travel to and from work and other matters to Singapore.”
Last month, the Chief Minister said that the reopening of the borders should be done for the sake of the 100,000 Malaysian nationals who may lose employment if the borders remain closed longer.
He said that the state government of Johor can’t find jobs for these people should this scenario arise. Johor’s unemployment rate is already at 18 per cent, an unprecedented high. There are currently 35,000 people in Johor who are jobless.
Additionally, between five to 10 per cent of businesses in the city area have closed as a result of the border shutdown last March because of the pandemic.
Some businesses have experienced as much as a 70 per cent decline in revenue after the border was closed. —/TISG