Tengku Zafrul: Loans, grants for SMEs to continue

by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

VARIOUS government agencies will continue to provide soft loans and grants, including through Budget 2021, to ensure that small and medium enterprises (SMEs) receive support, operate smoothly and grow.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture) said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Tekun Nasional, Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN), Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Bhd, SME Development Bank Malaysia Bhd, Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Bhd, Agrobank, SME Corp Malaysia and Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC), among others, will continue to assist local SMEs.

“The government hopes that all this support will enable the SMEs to compete in the medium and long terms, as well as inculcate technology and operational systems that are modern and relevant in this new norm,” he said in a statement on the 32nd Laksana Report on the implementation of Prihatin economic stimulus package and short-term National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) yesterday.

Tengku Zafrul highlighted that about 1.4 million SMEs and micro-SMEs have already benefitted from the direct assistance amounting to over RM24 billion under the stimulus package.

He added that in fact, some businesses received more than one aids, depending on their qualifications.

Among the benefits and assistance are the SME Soft Loans Funds under BNM worth RM11.13 billion for 23,700 SMEs and the Wage Subsidy Programme (PSU) worth RM9.89 billion which has supported about 300,000 SMEs and micro-SMEs and 1.85 million workers, excluding mid-tier or larger companies.

Additionally, Geran Khas Prihatin 1.0 and 2.0 amounting to RM2.55 billion have benefitted 850,000 micro-SMEs so far.

The Penjana e-commerce initiatives under MDEC include Shop Malaysia Online, and the Micro and SMEs e-Commerce Campaign. These have assisted over 21,000 micro and SME entrepreneurs generate sales of over RM1.2 billion from an allocation of RM140 million.

Tengku Zafrul added that the abovementioned amounts channelled to SMEs and micro-SMEs have not taken into account other aids such as the moratorium, electricity and premise discounts, tax reliefs and others, which were prepared to lower their operational cost burdens, as well as increase their cashflow.

He said as of September this year, 85,901 new businesses were registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia, compared to 76,443 companies for the whole of 2019.

He emphasised that SMEs and micro-SMEs are indeed the core of the nation’s economy, and the government has committed to provide continuous support since the implementation of the first stimulus package, Prihatin, up to the recent Budget 2021.

Meanwhile, Tengku Zafrul said the government is cross-checking new applications and appeals for the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional 2.0 (BPN 2.0).

“Approved payments will be made in January 2021,” he said, adding that the BPN 2.0 fulfilment process at BSN has been going on since Oct 26.

For the Prihatin Special Grant 2.0, the appeal period is until Dec 21, 2020, which can be done online.

On the PSU 2.0 under the Kita Prihatin package, as of Nov 27, a total of RM239.73 million was spent to assist 39,203 employers to continue operating and retain a total of 307,420 employees.

This amount is higher than the RM164.26 million, 34,479 employers and 273,767 employees recorded last week.

“New applications for PSU 2.0 are still open to employers until Dec 31 this year,” Tengku Zafrul said.

As of Sept 30, more than 322,000 employers and 2.64 million employees received PSU 1.0 under the Prihatin and Penjana packages.

The government also approved wage subsidies amounting to RM12.52 billion as of Nov 27, an increase from RM12.49 billion last week.