KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 — Any move to increase Malaysia’s minimum wage needs to be reviewed for now as most small medium enterprises (SME) are still recovering from the aftereffects of Covid-19, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said today.

The international trade and industry minister said the Cabinet will meet again next week to finalise the decision, claiming more time is necessary to study the impact of such mandate on SMEs that produce lower revenue.

“Apparently every two years, the ministry needs to review the wage for the workers but we also take into consideration the current situation where most of the SMEs and informal sectors are just about to recover from the pandemic.

“So [it is the matter of] whether it is the right time for us to impose this wage subsidy on the smaller companies including the SMEs,” he said during a press conference at the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) here.

“So this matter was discussed again in the Cabinet meeting last week, and the Cabinet has directed the ministry to review back the policy before we officially announce the implementation of this and to see what are the impacts on the SMEs and also informal sectors,” he added.

Last month, the government had reportedly urged more employers to offer salaries that exceed the existing minimum wage in the country after a move by Aeon Co (M) Bhd and Westports Holdings.

Prior to that, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that the government is holding engagement sessions with employers on the RM1,500 minimum wage to enable it to be implemented holistically.

In response to Ismail’s announcement, the Malaysian Employers Federation claimed that now is not the right time to increase the cost of doing business and the proposed RM1,500 new minimum wage implementation would derail economic recovery.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim then stressed that the government should continue with the implementation of the minimum wage policy without yielding to the conglomerates’ objections against the proposed minimum wage hike.

The Port Dickson MP said some giant corporations in the country have recorded strong profits due to higher productivity but nonetheless oppose the minimum wage policy implementation.