Retail chain tycoon Ameer Ali Mydin today criticised the government's last-minute announcement of an additional holiday for Hari Raya, estimating that his company would have to bear losses of at least half a million ringgit.
Speaking in an interview with Astro Awani, he said the traders were the ones who would have to bear the losses.
"That half a million could have let us give thousands towards Menu Rahmah," he added, referring to the government's initiative to provide meals for RM5 and below amid the rising cost of living.
Ameer's Mydin had been among the leading companies that responded to the government's call for private sector involvement in the programme.
However, it recently warned that the initiative would not last long if the price of raw goods remained high.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced yesterday that the government would declare an additional day of holiday in order to facilitate the people's plans and trips back their home towns.
The extra day will be observed on either April 21 or 24, depending on when the first day of Raya falls.
The government also announced toll exemptions for all highway users from April 19 to 21, and on April 24.
Ameer, the managing director of Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd, cautioned the government against a sudden shift towards populism.
He said it would be better to provide targeted subsidies in the form of cash for those in need than to announce toll exemptions for all without taking into consideration their income level.
"Not everyone needs toll subsidies," he added. "This is not the correct model."