Ease requirements for SMEs to get aid, urges SUPP man

Eric Tay

KUCHING: SUPP Youth Central Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Bureau chief Eric Tay Tze Kok has expressed his delight with the newly announced Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance (BKSS 7.0) package from the state government.

He said the package was timely as many SMEs had been severely affected by the pandemic and the movement restrictions that followed.

While acknowledging that not all measures could cover and assist all businesses, he noted that many SMEs had indicated that assistance was offered depending on their Social Security Organisation (Socso) registration, which is unfair to those that have not registered or paid for Socso.

“The main reason is that they are their own employers and staff and that there are no people working under them. Some companies even had to lay off their staff due to unbearable economic pressure following the movement control order last year.”

Tay also indicated that many small businesses were not included in the aid list because of their ineligibility, although they are mostly sole proprietorships and need immediate assistance as well.

“I hope that the Sarawak government will not leave out this particular group and reconsider the aid allocation regulations.

“This is particularly for those enterprises where they play the role of both bosses and employees, but have not registered or paid for Socso, whereby they can also get some assistance. It is recommended for the government to use the Prihatin Special Grant (GKP) list as the standard for grant eligibility.”

Meanwhile, with regard to production and manufacturing sectors, Tay urged the state government to focus and consider more on the issue of foreign labour.

“These industries are the ones that require a large number of foreign workers.

“Many legal foreign workers had to return to their country as their passport expiry date was due, and they cannot re-enter Sarawak during this period, which has caused some industries to be in an uneasy state; and there was no manpower to put into production, while illegal foreign workers cannot be employed.”

He hoped that the government could reconsider and reclassify the problem of foreign labour, allowing local SMEs to operate and thus reviving the local economy.