Govt approves billions in aid to keep biz afloat

We expect approvals will continue to increase in the coming weeks and hope that this will be fully utilised, says finance minister


THE government has approved aid worth billions of ringgit under its stimulus package to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) weather the economic effects of the coronavirus.

In his weekly update on Facebook yesterday, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture) said the implementation of the RM260 billion spending package had reached SMEs.

SMEs contribute 40% to Malaysia’s GDP.

“The government is committed to supporting businesses in this challenging time. I understand that many would lose their jobs if SMEs do not get proper help. This is a situation we must avoid,” he said.

Details on the implementation status of the stimulus package are as follows:

BNM Fund for SMEs

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has allocated RM6.3 billion to help SMEs sustain their businesses and preserve jobs.

As of April 15, the central bank has approved RM2.7 billion worth of loans with an interest rate of 3.5% via domestic banks that will benefit over 5,000 SMEs.

This is an increase from the RM1.5 billion credit for 3,000 SMEs announced last week.

“I believe banks will be encouraged to facilitate loan applications with government guarantees of up to 80%.

“We expect approvals will continue to increase in the coming weeks and hope that this will be fully utilised by all eligible recipients,” Tengku Zafrul said.

Wage Subsidy Programme

As of April 19, the government has approved over five times the number of applications announced last week to 159,000 employers, involving nearly one million workers.

The total amount of subsidy which has been accepted is worth RM1.2 billion. Payments began last week.

Micro Loan Scheme under BSN and Tekun

Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) and Tekun Nasional have provided a credit scheme amounting to a total of RM700 million with 0% interest.

As of April 17, loans worth over RM45 million have been approved for 1,500 micro businesses. Out of this total, about 900 are under BSN and 600 under Tekun.

Prihatin Grant for Micro Enterprises

Application for this grant will be open on May 1 and will be managed by the Inland Revenue Board (IRB). Eligible micro businesses will receive a grant of RM3,000 each.

EPF’s Employer Advisory Services

The Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) employer advisory services will be open for applications on April 24, where businesses can apply to defer their contribution to the EPF.

The government expects the measure to provide RM10 billion in cashflow savings both during and after the Movement Control Order.

Bantuan Prihatin Nasional

As of April 19, a total of RM480 million has been credited into the bank accounts of 1.2 million recipients in the middle 40% income quadrant.

Under Phase 1 of Bantuan Prihatin Nasional, over RM5.2 billion was paid to 7.6 million recipients, while Phase 2 will take place next month.

Meanwhile, the government has received over three million new applications and appeals.

“The IRB is currently working very hard to verify these requests. We hope the payment can be made in May,” Tengku Zafrul said.

E-hailing Drivers

About 90,000 e-hailing drivers are expected to receive their one-off RM500 payment which began on April 20.

i-Lestari and Lower Contribution to EPF

As of April 17, the EPF has received 2.8 million applications of which 1.5 million have been approved. This is expected to result in a withdrawal of RM702 million in May.

Meanwhile, the reduction of the contribution rate from 11% to 7% for employees is expected to add RM1.1 billion worth of disposable income in April.

Only 8% or 600,000 workers opted not to reduce their contribution rate for six months.