Affected business groups still in need of govt’s assistance during MCO 2.0 and emergency

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and micro-businesses are still in need of immediate financial relief to support their operations during the emergency period and the recent re-implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) which began on Wednesday.

National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia president Tan Sri Ter Leong Yap said the extensions of loan moratorium and wage subsidy have been keeping the business groups afloat during the challenging and unprecedented times.

“Banks should continue to provide more compassionate support in facilitating borrowers’ loan repayment obligations under this special circumstance.

“The government should also extend wage subsidies to cover the affected sectors besides the tourism and retail sectors, as announced in the 2021 budget.

“We are also proposing the one-off financial grant to small traders and micro-enterprises, as well as rental relief and electricity discount,” the association’s president said in a statement yesterday.

Ter said retailers and small traders, particularly in the travel and tourism sector, would find themselves in a sticky situation, involving their inventory as the businesses have been stocking up prior to the MCO which could affect their margin.

“Businesses namely SMEs, small traders, retailers, particularly those in the travel and tourism sector, would have to endure tough sales during this festive celebration and incur cashflow problems as some have already stocked up goods ahead of the festive season.

“We urge the government and banks to consider an extension of financial assistance and relief measures,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Social and Economic Research Initiative (SERI) opined that the government needs to address the extent of the emergency proclamation’s implications to the country’s investments.

“While the government continues to do the necessary work of addressing public health and economic concerns, there are need and opportunity for a concerted effort to provide more clarity on the implications of the emergency with relation to investments and economic activity.

“With the emergency ending in August or sooner (should the Covid-19 situation in the country come under control), how would it impact the current, planned and future investments of the country?” it said.

The rapid flows of investment to other South-East Asian countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia also signal a worrying reminder that Malaysia must safeguard its business environment to continue attracting foreign investors and encourage domestic investors, the research group said.

“We cannot afford to put Malaysia’s foreign or domestic economic activities on hold while we address the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It must be a concurrent coordinated strategy to address both lives and livelihoods, in partnership with the private sector.

“More can be done to ensure our policies and regulations are not only advancing competitiveness, but also beneficial to the society, non-discriminatory, forward-looking and fit for the digital age,” it said.

Highlighting the importance of supporting the most affected quarters, SERI said safeguarding the economic health of SMEs and micro-businesses is one of the measures to encourage the country’s economic activities during the pandemic.

“As we approach our first anniversary of the pandemic, the government has an opportunity to demonstrate its conscientiousness to all, including the healthcare workers, cleaners, roadside vendors, educators, students and delivery riders.

“The government must implement measures to support micro-businesses and SMEs, bottom 40% households, people with disabilities and others who require financial assistance to stay open and afloat until August 2021,” it said.


Read our earlier report

Clarity on the impact of emergency on businesses needed