Too early to tell whether economy will recover quickly

Dr Afiza Abu Bakar

KUCHING: The government’s decision to reinstate inter-state travel is another step in the right direction towards economic recovery, opines Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) economic lecturer Dr Afiza Abu Bakar.

She said the decision was taken to find a compromise between boosting the economy and ensuring public health and safety.

She added that the move would be beneficial to the economy as a whole, and particularly to the distribution and retail sectors.

“Such a step would also assist in reviving the tourism sector and accelerating economic recovery.

“This will increase business, social and leisure travel, aligning with the government’s goal of increasing domestic tourism.”

Having said that, Afiza noted that it was still difficult to tell whether the economy would recover quickly.

“In order to keep track of the number of positive cases, we must follow them throughout the next several months.

“Additionally, allowing inter-state travel may have an impact on the figures and this is what we need to monitor closely before deciding on the momentum of the economic recovery from inter-state travel.”

While significant progress had been made towards ensuring safe inter-state travel, she admitted that the situation was far from over, adding that administration, coordination and digitisation of inter-state travel-related risk-reduction measures, such as testing, tracking, and vaccination certificates, were critical to promoting safe travel and preparing for economic recovery once circumstances permit.

“Allowing inter-state travel is a brave initiative. However, if we want to further allow inter-state travel, we must likewise be prepared to receive passengers at the borders or airports.

“In addition, computerised methods of border management are required. It is only through modern digital border technology, which is integrated between airlines and government agencies, that we will be able to meet the challenges of Covid-19.

“This technology will allow us to respond quickly to changing events or circumstances and to check and monitor a traveller’s security status when they check-in.”

Afiza also opined that the people must embrace new digital methods of functioning at the border in order to increase the people’s trust while also keeping the virus spread under control.