13-point memorandum to resuscitate SMEs in need

BNM announces additional RM2b for the TRRF intended for SMEs, it’s available until Dec 31, 2021, or until full utilisation

By NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / Pic TMR

A COVID-19 special task force secretariat representing 113 NGOs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), traders and entrepreneurs has published a memorandum that outlines 13 points to help resuscitate businesses in need.

Taskforce secretariat and Arori (M) Sdn Bhd ED Raymond Woo said the group hopes the government will review the urgent requests and engage the task force to bring forth its plight and justify the requests.

“The 13-point request would also help with a lot of our businesses and gain its track to recovery as well. Therefore, it should help in resuscitating SMEs in need,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

Part of the association list is the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents, represented by its president Datuk Tan Kok Liang.

Woo said the list consists of a group of SMEs that were “left in the cold to bleed to death”.

“The various stimulus packages are not specific or targeted towards industries that are hardest hit.

“Businesses need more financial support to retain employees and mitigate overhead costs when income is not forthcoming due to the Movement Control Order (MCO),” he said.

Woo hoped the prime minister (PM) will engage the business community and listen from the grassroots rather than being advised by officials in the government.

“The memorandum, hopefully, will alert the PM on the dire situation of businesses and call for his timely intervention,” he said.

He added that among the causes businesses continue to suffer is the lack of waives on matters like the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) contributions.

“Why not waive EPF contributions temporarily when as employers, we are struggling to pay staff costs, considering we have no income in the past nine months, especially in the tourism sector? This is a common-sense request,” he said.

Woo added that a loan moratorium should also be extended to allow SMEs some space to breathe.

“You can’t just leave it to the banks on a case-to-case basis. The same goes for the Companies Commission of Malaysia and the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia — they should extend regulatory and compliance deadlines, so that SMEs can have some breathing space,” he said.

The memorandum outlines the business community’s plea to address issues like loan moratorium, licensing and business assessment charges, waiver of statutory payments, subsidy on electricity bills and wage subsidy programmes.

The paper outlines 13 issues and suggestions the business community has for the government to take into consideration and its request for immediate reinstatement of all trade and businesses with a strict adherence to the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

The Malaysian Economic and Rakyat’s Protection Assistance Package, or Permai, of RM15 billion was announced early this year to help businesses cope with the reinstatement of the MCO as Covid-19 infection numbers soared.

The stimulus was some 22 initiatives of which 10 were specific to the business community.

The task force secretariat, however, strongly feels there is more to be done.

“We strongly feel much more needs to be done — with both a unified implementation strategy and unbridled urgency,” it noted in the paper.

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) on Feb 5 announced an additional allocation of RM2 billion for the Targeted Relief and Recovery Facility (TRRF) intended for SMEs.

The additional allocation brings the TRRF to a total of RM4 billion. The facility is available until Dec 31, 2021, or until full utilisation.