SIBU: Sibu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), in joining the call for the government to assist small and medium enterprises during the movement control order (MCO), has proposed six types of aid for the SMEs.

In a statement, it said SMEs were already feeling the effects of the MCO, enforced since March 18 to contain the spread of Covid-19.

“Help is urgently needed. We propose the following assistance to support SMEs, including but not limited to, wage subsidies targeting SMEs and private sector, 50 percent from the federal government, 25 percent from the state, and 25 percent from employers; waive employers’ EPF and Socso contributions for three months; halve personal and company income tax for income tax years 2020 and 2021; waive Sales and Service Tax (SST) for year 2020; waive utility bills during the MCO for affected businesses and exclude government staff and households with income more than RM8,000 per month from the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional programme,” it suggested.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had announced the RM250bil Economic Stimulus Package on March 27.

SCCCI opined that the package provided little assistance to ease the financial and operational burdens of SMEs.

“Over two-thirds of enterprises in Malaysia are SMEs and micro-enterprises. They collectively employ the most people and make a significant contribution to the economy.

“Since the MCO was enforced, most SMEs’ operational activities except those under essential services category have been suspended.

“However, these SMEs are required to continue paying their employees their full salaries and are not allowed to insist that they take annual leave or unpaid leave during the MCO.

“This restriction undoubtedly has significantly increased the financial burden of the SMEs and many may not survive past the MCO,” SCCCI explained.

The chamber of commerce felt that the stimulus packages announced thus far did very little and were not enough to keep SMEs in business.

“The Bantuan Prihatin Nasional programme supports individuals. The Wage Subsidy programme, though aimed at helping employers in retaining their workers, it is still unclear how businesses will benefit from it.”