CHIEF Minister Chow Kon Yeow chaired the first meeting of the recently formed Penang Socio Economic Recovery Consultative Council (PSERCC) in Komtar today to identify the state’s current economic issues and the challenges that hinder the state’s economic growth in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Various issues like tourism (domestic, international and medical), housing, digitalisation, investment, retrenchment, unemployment, wage subsidy and infrastructure were discussed.
After a fruitful discussion, Chow said the six working groups in the PSERCC would meet probably in the next two weeks and develop strategies on how to overcome the challenges before presenting them to the next council meeting.
The six working groups are headed by Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman (Industry/SMI/SME/retail sector), Deputy Chief Minister II Prof Dr P. Ramasamy (labour market sector), state executive councillors Jagdeep Singh Deo (housing sector), Zairil Khir Johari (infrastructure & transport sector), Yeoh Soon Hin (tourism sector) and Dr Norlela Ariffin (food industry sector).
All of them were present together with state Financial Officer Datuk Sarul Bahiyah Abu, Chief Minister’s special investment adviser Datuk Seri Lee Kah Choon, Northern Corridor Implementation Authority chief executive officer Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John, Penang Science Cluster and Penang Tech Centre board director Datuk Seri Wong Siew Hai, Penang Port Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Syed Mohamad Aidid Syed Murtaza, Penang REHDA chairman Datuk Toh Chin Leong, Malaysian Association of Hotel (Penang Chapter) chairman Khoo Boo Lim, Digital Penang CEO Tony Yeoh and Penang Institute executive director Datuk Dr Ooi Kee Beng.
Chow said infrastructure group would be playing a very important role to get some of this infrastructure work going, especially the digital infrastructure that would transform the state.
He added that beyond funding, the will to carry out the project was also crucial.
On the tourism sector, Chow shared a piece of good news when he revealed that Penang Hill drew 6,000 visitors each day over the last weekend.
“I think domestic tourism will be the sector that can save us during this interim period while waiting for international borders to open,” Chow said.
“Don’t be too optimistic about medical tourism because matters pertaining to health are not over in Indonesia and we may not be able to see them coming so soon.
“So, I think the focus will be on other states. The last two weekends have seen a lot of outstation tourists coming to Penang. We need to travel but where to travel?
“Definitely, Penang is a very popular destination for local tourists and we need to capitalise on that in the interim to help our hospitality sector to at least to breathe again. Domestic tourists will be able to help us to recover as fast as possible.”
Khoo said beach hotels were enjoying 70% occupancy rate on weekends but had poor occupancy on weekdays, while city hotels reported 40% occupancy rate on weekends and 20% occupancy rate on weekdays.
Almost everyone gave their feedback and the six groups will hold their respective meetings in due time to come up with further proposals and action plans.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi