SMEs expect more help from the gov't today, says news report

Modified 31 Mar 2020, 11:45 pm

CORONAVIRUS | Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are expecting the government to announce further additions to its stimulus package to help the sector survive challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is according to a report by The Edge last night, which quoted SME Association of Malaysia president Michael Kang (above) as saying he expects a paper on the matter to be discussed at the cabinet meeting today and for the decision to be announced immediately afterwards.

The government’s RM250 billion Prihatin Rakyat economic stimulus package, rolled out last week, has been touted as all-encompassing under the theme “No One Left Behind”.

The Edge report said Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed and Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong had held a flurry of meetings with various business associations over the last two days to find out on the assistance needed.

This included a meeting with the SME Association on Monday. Kang said he had urged the government to provide assistance to help SMEs pay for six months’ expenditures.

“We are looking at the government to assist with payroll and rents or provide a very specific short-term loan for six months’ expenditure. Just to roll over for the MCO (movement control order) period,” he was quoted as saying.

He explained that most SMEs pay these fixed costs from their earnings each month, and are now struggling to come up with the money because they had no income for the past two weeks.

'Most SMEs don't qualify for a loan'

The wage subsidy announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin “will kill SMEs” because it is conditional on companies continuing to pay full wages with no pay cuts or unpaid leave, Kang said.

He added that SMEs are also not in a position to roll over their loans because 80 percent don’t qualify for a loan, and the cash flow on hand would only last them a month or two.

According to the report, the ministers had also met with the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce, Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Indian Muslim Chamber of Commerce, Association of Malay Hawkers and Petty Traders Malaysia, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), Malaysian F&B Operators Alliance (MyF&B) and the National Shipbuilding Consumer Council.

MyF&B spokesperson Joshua Liew reportedly told The Edge that the ministers acknowledged that the F&B industry had been the hardest hit by the movement control order, and Tengku Zafrul was keen to provide businesses with more targeted help.

Liew was reported as claiming that the minister was shocked to learn that delivery service companies had not reduced their commissions since the order had come into effect on March 18.

“I think he has assigned his officers to call and talk to them,” Liew was quoted as saying.

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