KUCHING: Four more banks have agreed to participate in the Interest Free Soft Loans facility for Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs Special Relief Fund – SRF) under the Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance package (BKSS) 2.0, bringing the number of participating banks to seven.

The new additions are CIMB Bank, Public Bank, Bank Muamalat and SME Bank. Before them were Maybank, Hong Leong Bank and RHB Bank.

Present to witness the signing and exchange of memorandum of agreement (MOA) yesterday were Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion.

Awang Tengah, who is also International Trade & Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development Minister said under the scheme, a total of RM1 billion would be made available to eligible Sarawakian SMEs.

In order to qualify, registered Sarawak companies have to comply with the National SME Development Council (NSDC) SME definition and subject to the following:

• Working capital in respect to salary payment;
• Interest free loan amount is from RM20,000 to RM500,000;
• No collateral required;
• Sole proprietorship, partnership and Sdn Bhd; and
• Business in operations three years and more.

Awang Tengah told a press conference at Wisma Bapa Malaysia, eligible SMEs could apply for the loans directly from any branch of Maybank Bank, Hong Leong Bank, RHB Bank, CIMB Bank, Public Bank, Muamalat Bank and SME Bank. 

“All SMEs have an option to apply for either Islamic or conventional loans for the scheme and the interests will be absorbed by the Sarawak government,” he said.

He explained that the rate of interest will be subsidised by the government for three and a half years and would cost RM80.7 million.

“We hope this scheme can provide the much-needed relief to the SMEs during this difficult time, to sustain their businesses during this downturn, and to provide resiliency for businesses to bounce back,” he said.

As of yesterday, the total amount of loan approved under the Special Relief Fund for Sarawak amounted to over RM650 million, benefiting more than 1,700 SMEs across the state.

Sarawak government, under the stewardship of GPS government, has announced BKSS packages in three phases this year: BKSS 1.0 on March 23, BKSS 2.0 on April 10 and BKSS 3.0 on May 8.

These packages, worth RM2.25 billion, were introduced to help cushion the impact of Covid-19, and included measures covering both individuals and businesses.

GPS government recognises SMEs as the key drivers and the backbone to the state’s economy, and in providing job opportunities to Sarawakians.

SMEs make up over 75 percent of the state’s business sector, contributing 20 percent to Sarawak Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and providing about 600,000 jobs for Sarawakians.

Based on records, there are over 40,000 SMEs operating in Sarawak.