Jonathan Chai Voon Tok

KUCHING: The expansion of interest-free soft loans for small-medium enterprises (SMEs) under the Sarawakku Sayang Special Aid (BKSS) 2.0 by getting more banks involved is a practical approach, said Jonathan Chai Voon Tok.

The Kuching Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCGCCI) secretary-general when contacted yesterday said, “This would benefit a wider spectrum of SMEs which have obtained their special relief facilities from the banks which are now included in the list.”

He commended the state government for being receptive to the appeal from the local business community regarding the expansion of the facility to have more banks.

Now, in addition to Maybank, Hong Leong Bank, and RHB Bank, four more commercial banks have agreed to participate, namely, CIMB Bank, Public Bank, SME Bank, and Bank Muamalat.

He reiterated that the interest-free loans totalling up to RM1 billion were made available through this scheme which is coordinated by the Ministry of International Trade, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development in collaboration with the seven participating banks under Bank Negara Malaysia’s Special Relief Facility (SRF).

“I was given to understand that the funds have all been snatched up nationwide by SMEs that are desperately looking for financial assistance to overcome the challenges posed by the deteriorating economy,” he said.

Chai therefore appealed to the federal government to further increase the size of the SRF so that SMEs which missed out on the opportunity in the previous round could enjoy the benefits of such package to ease the cash flow of their businesses.

“In addition, the government should also oversee the disbursement of the SRF loans as we have received numerous complaints over the delay in the disbursement of the funds and it would not serve its purpose if the funds were not released soon enough to help the enterprises,” he urged.

Last Wednesday, the state government had exchanged memorandums of agreement (MoAs) with banks participating in the SRF for SMEs under BKSS 2.0 – bringing the number of participating banks to seven.

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

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said that for three and a half years the state government would subsidise the interest rate at a cost of RM80.7 million.