In the US, President Obama has given both General Motors and Chrysler 60 days to come out with better restructuring and turnaround proposals. The new proposals are expected to address the significant debt level and social welfare plans in the companies. The two companies are given stern directive from the Obama administration to fix up and come back to convince them that they deserve additional public money to stay afloat.
Dow Jones is currently down more than 280 points and is expected to stay below the 7400 points level when market closes. Auto mobile related stocks are down. Some financial counters are experiencing profit taking activities too. Chrysler has been asked to find a strategic partner.
In Malaysia, CIMB has directed its 36,000 staff to take 6 months no-pay leave. I am left speechless by the lack of governmental control and surveillance over such practices. The government should require companies to go through a financial diagnostic test to ensure that they do not take advantage of employees during the tough economic times.
Our attention should be directed to helping companies staying alive and workers keeping their jobs. However, companies should not be encouraged to drop the whole burden on employees. I would like to urge the governance to be more sensitive and focused in finding viable solutions to help strategic companies to reinvent and restructure to stay competitive.
We are still awaiting more details from the government on how to combat the decline in the manufacturing, construction, automobile, financial and retail sectors.
The three by-elections are set to drag the inaction beyond 7th April 2009. We are losing some valuable time. If Malaysia fails to use this crisis to improve its competitiveness and industrial performance, we might find ourselves lagging behind many more countries in the next few years.
The Ministry of Finance, especially in-coming PM Najib, must immediately investigate CIMB's no-pay directive. For many of its staff, no-pay for six months can bring unnecessary hardship. Worse, we do not have any retrenchment or unemployment benefits.