Datuk Abang Helmi Ikhwan

KUCHING: Sarawak Chamber of Bumiputera Entrepreneurs (DUBS) president Datuk Abang Helmi Ikhwan hopes that the involvement of more banks in the Special Relief Fund (SRF) scheme would help to improve the number of Bumiputera recipients.

“So far, Bumiputera businesses have largely been left out of these facilities because of stringent approval conditions,” he told New Sarawak Tribune yesterday.

He expressed appreciation for the state government’s assistance and for their response in appointing more banks to participate in the programme.

“We have submitted details of DUBS’ requests to the state government and federal government earlier,” he said.

He also appealed for a special allocation of the SRF to be made for Bumiputera SMEs.

Meanwhile, Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) president Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum also lauded the state government’s initiative and encouraged Dayak businesses not to be slow to apply for the facility.

“We hope that the bank officers processing their applications will not be too strict and demanding to the point of frightening away the Dayak business people,” he said.

On Wednesday, the state government had exchanged memorandums of agreement (MoA) with four banks participating in the SRF for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), under the Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance package (BKSS) 2.0 – bringing the number of participating banks to seven.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan had said that under the scheme, interest-free loans totalling up to RM1bil would be made available to eligible Sarawakians SMEs.

He also said that for three and a half years the state government would subsidise the interest rate, at a cost of RM80.7mil.

With the state government recognising that SMEs are the backbone to the state’s economy, it is hoped that this scheme would provide much-needed relief to SMEs during this critical time, sustain businesses, and assist them in bouncing back.