Association welcomes economic aid but wants more done

KUCHING: The country’s latest economic recovery package, called Pemulih, will have limited impact in assisting small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with only RM5.1 billion allocated for the group, said SME Association of Sarawak.

Having said that, the association welcomed the assistance despite it being only a temporary relief for SMEs, while most of the aid were extensions of previous assistance.

“This is a critical moment for small businesses. If we lose too many of them, it will take a longer time for our economy to recover.

“The government must be more daring and aggressive in providing all the support to save jobs and protect livelihoods,” it said today.

The association also suggested subsidised salary payouts according to a certain percentage of an employee’s salary.

“Fifty percent of the gross monthly wages with no salary ceiling will be a good measure for business owners to hold on to their workers.

“The percentage should depend on the business sectors and to allocate a higher percentage for industries which are worst hit, including hotels, restaurants, entertainment, health and wellness, and operators of events and exhibitions.

“Even though the salary cap of RM4,000 has been removed, RM600 subsidy is inconsequential for SMEs that have been struggling to sustain following rising expenses while operating at a standstill.”

On the six-month moratorium for loan repayments, the association pointed out that individuals should not have to prove that their income had been impacted or whether they had lost their job to be eligible for the assistance.

“However, we encourage SMEs to resume loan repayments if they are able to so, so that they do not accumulate too much debt while extending the repayment period.”