Ensuring initiatives benefit small businesses

KUCHING: The state government through the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development (Mintred) will continue to review the effectiveness of all measures implemented under the six Sarawakku Sayang Special Aid (BKSS) packages including those for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Mohd Naroden Majais
Mohd Naroden Majais

Mintred Assistant Minister Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais said the state government is open to suggestions from business chambers and associations as well as the people to provide necessary assistance where required.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has caused much hardship to the people and the business communities, especially the SMEs. As such, the federal and state governments have implemented many policies as well initiatives during this difficult period.

“These policies and initiatives are to lighten the financial burden and sustain the SMEs’ business operations as well as to prepare the industries for post-Covid-19,” he said.

Naroden said the state government has provided additional financial and non-financial assistance to the people, on top of what the federal government has given.

He said the BKSS 1.0 to 6.0, which amounted to RM4.5 billion, is to assist all Sarawakians including SMEs and the M40 group.

“The latest RM1.4 billion allocation under BKSS 6.0 recently announced by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg included an extension of assistance to the SMEs.

“Among others, the chief minister said a total of RM97.5 million in a special grant is given to hawkers and petty traders registered with the local authorities (RM1,500 per person); RM1.6 million to e-hailing drivers and driving instructors (RM500 one-off assistance per person); RM100,000 to 200 registered penambang (river taxi) and operators (RM500 one-off assistance per person); RM2.2 million to 1,980 licensed taxi drivers, licensed van operators (960), and licensed school bus/van operators (740) (RM600 one-off assistance per person); as well as RM1.63 million to 216 licensed travel agencies, licensed Homestay operators (568), licensed tourist guides (219), licensed park guides (173) and licensed tours drivers (99).

“Besides that, there is also a waiver of rentals with a total of RM2 million to SMEs in the retail sector (including ready-built factories under Mintred) operating on premises owned by state government-linked companies (GLCs) for six months (Jul to Dec 2021); rental discount of market and stalls totalling RM1.7 million to benefit more than 10,000 registered hawkers and petty traders under the local authorities; waiver of permit and licence fees under the local authorities; waiver of licence fees for hotels and lodging houses; 30 percent discount for land rent; and 25 percent to 30 percent discount on assessment rate,” he said.

Eligible SMEs can apply for assistance such as soft loans and interest subsidy through various schemes, Naroden added.

“The Sarawak government through Mintred will continue to provide soft loans and interest subsidy through Skim Kredit Mikro Sarawak (SKMS) with a budget of RM100 million. Eligible SMEs are entitled to interest subsidy for three and half years and a moratorium until the end of this year.

“As for the soft loans to the Bumiputera through Skim Pinjaman Industri Kecil dan Sederhana (SPIKS) with a budget totalling RM22 million, all eligible applicants will also enjoy interest subsidy for three and half years and moratorium until the end of this year,” he said.

He also said the state government will continue to provide interest subsidy for three and half years for those who are eligible under the Targeted Relief and Recovery Facility (TRRF) that was initiated by the federal government.

“The TRRF is to cater for SMEs under the service sectors such as repair of computers, household goods, laundry, hairdressing, beauty, food and beverage service activities, human health and social work activities among others.

“For eligible SMEs under the Penjana Tourism Financing (PTF), they are also entitled to interest subsidy for three and half years, which will be provided by the state government. This subsidy scheme is available until Dec 31 this year,” he said.

Naroden disclosed that all of the interest subsidy schemes under SKMS, SPIKS, TRRF, PTF as well as Special Relief Fund (SRF) will cost the state government RM89.83 million to implement.

He also noted that Sarawak is the only state in Malaysia that provides interest subsidy schemes for SMEs and the state government will consider increasing the allocation if there is a need.

He added that the state government has also allocated RM23 million to assist graduates and school leavers with technical skills to start and expand their businesses.

“Under the Program Graduan Ke Arah Keusahawanan (Gerak) and Usahawan Teknikal dan Vokasional (USTEV), successful applicants are entitled to a maximum grant of RM20,000 each.

“Apart from that, Go Digital Programme with a budget of RM20 million is to encourage SMEs to go on broad digital entrepreneurship through provision of a grant to successful applicants at a maximum of RM10,000,” he said.

Besides the assistance for SMEs under BKSS 6.0, the SMEs are also urged to apply for the wage subsidy programme introduced by the federal government under the Pemerkasa stimulus package.

Naroden said the wage subsidy programme was aimed at tourism sectors, wholesale and retail traders as well as other businesses that were not allowed to operate during the enforcement of the movement control order (MCO) 2.0.

“Under Pemerkasa Plus, the federal government will extend the targeted wage subsidy programme worth RM1.5 billion for one month for all affected businesses and limited to 500 employees per company.

“Apart from that, there are other several initiatives for SMEs such as continuing the targeted moratorium and loan instalment reduction; additional RM2 billion for TRRF by Bank Negara Malaysia for affected SMEs with 3.5 percent interest rate; RM1.5 billion micro-credit financial assistance through Bank Simpanan Nasional, the National Entrepreneur Group Economic Fund, Majlis Amanah Rakyat, SME Corp and the Malaysian Islamic Economic Development Foundation with financing rates as low as three percent.

“Moreover, there is a special tax deduction to owners of buildings and business premises who offer rent reduction to SMEs and non-SMEs for at least 30 percent of the current rental rate for another six months until Dec 31 this year as well as an extension of tourism tax and service tax exemption on the accommodation provided by hotel operators,” he said.

He added that the initiative also includes the Inland revenue board considering appeals for the imposition of penalties and defer payment of penalties to 2022 as well as provides rescheduling of outstanding tax payments for taxpayers and affected businesses; late payment exemption for renewal of business licence until Dec 31 this year for micro-SMEs, sole proprietorships and partnerships by the Companies Commission of Malaysia.

“Employers registered with the Human Resource Development Corporation will be given an exemption of levy for one month in June this year and an additional RM500, from RM1,000 to RM1,500, under the Prihatin Special Grant for SMEs to manage their cash flow,” he said.