KUCHING: The state government has approved seven additional financial initiatives amounting to RM141.7 million under the Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance 5.0 (BKSS 5.0) package to assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in facing the challenges arising from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said these additional initiatives, which included two new measures, were expected to benefit more than 10,000 entrepreneurs.
“Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had instructed me to study and discuss financial assistance measures to help SMEs in Sarawak in facing the difficulties and challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said at a press conference at Wisma Sumber Alam here today.
Thus, he said his ministry had obtained views on the matter from entrepreneur associations, financial institutions, industry players, and entrepreneurs.
The additional measures announced are RM50 million under the Sarawak Micro Credit Scheme (SKMS); RM20 million under the Small and Medium Industries Loan Scheme (SPIKS); RM22.2 million interest subsidy for Targeted Relief and Recovery Facility (TRRF); RM2.5 million interest subsidy for Penjana Tourism Financing (PTF); RM20 million under the Graduates-to-Entrepreneurs (Gerak) and Technical and Vocational Entrepreneurs (Ustev) programmes; RM20 million under the Go Digital Sarawak programme and RM2 million under the Digital Marketing Training programme.
“The Go Digital Sarawak and Digital Marketing Training programmes are new programmes to assist entrepreneurs in increasing productivity and expanding their market through the digital platform,” he said.
Initiative 1: Additional RM50 million under SKMS.
Awang Tengah, who is also Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development, said that given the overwhelming response to SKMS, the state government had agreed to increase SKMS allocation by RM50 million for this year.
“The state government has also agreed to extend the moratorium for six months to existing borrowers. Meanwhile, new SKMS borrowers approved until June 30 are also eligible to enjoy the six months’ moratorium and interest subsidy for three and a half years,” he said.
This initiative is expected to benefit over 1,700 new SMEs.
He said SKMS thus far had benefited 1,370 SMEs including micro entrepreneurs and the B40 (low-income) group, with a total loan approval of RM44.8 million.
“All of them are now enjoying three and a half years interest subsidy and six months’ moratorium. As of January, 180 new applications are still being evaluated,” he said.
“SKMS only requires business permits issued by councils or relevant authorities as we want to make the application process as simple as possible,” he added.
Initiative 2: Additional RM20 million under SPIKS.
The state government has agreed to allocate an additional RM20 million to the existing RM2 million for the implementation of SPIKS.
Awang Tengah said for new applications approved before June 30 this year, the state government also agreed to provide a six-month moratorium and interest subsidy for three and a half years.
“This scheme is expected to benefit more than 200 new SMEs,” he said.
Initiative 3: Providing RM22.2 million interest subsidy for TRRF.
To assist local SMEs, the state government will provide interest subsidy for three and half years to SMEs who qualify for TRRF.
Awang Tengah said his ministry would collaborate with 12 local banks – namely CIMB, Hong Leong Bank, Maybank, Muamalat Bank, Public Bank, RHB Bank, SME Bank, Agrobank, Alliance Bank, Ambank, Bank Rakyat, and Bank Islam to implement this initiative.
“To date, 279 applications from Sarawak SMEs have been approved with total value of RM75.8 million under TRRF. We expect more SMEs will apply for this scheme as the fund is available until Dec 31, as announced by federal government under Budget 2021,” he said.
He noted that the federal government had allocated RM2 billion under this scheme for SMEs throughout Malaysia for working capital only.
Initiative 4: Providing RM2.5 million interest subsidy for PTF.
To assist local SMEs in tourism and tourism-related subsectors, the state government will provide interest subsidy for three and a half years to eligible SMEs in tourism-related sectors.
Awang Tengah said his ministry would collaborate with the aforementioned 12 local banks to implement this scheme.
“To date, 26 applications from Sarawak SMEs have been approved with the loans amounting to RM5.8 million under this scheme with interest subsidy amounting RM706,319. We expect more SMEs in this sector to apply for this scheme as the fund is still available as announced by federal government under the Penjana package,” he said.
He noted that the federal government had allocated RM1 billion under the Penjana package for SMEs in tourism and tourism-related subsectors throughout Malaysia for working capital only.
At the same time, he pointed out that Sarawak is the only state in the whole country that provides the three and a half years interest subsidies for Special Relief Fund (SRF), TRRF, and PTF.
Initiative 5: Additional RM20 million to the existing RM3 million under the Gerak and Ustev programmes.
Awang Tengah said the state government will provide an additional allocation of RM20 million to assist more entrepreneurs especially among the youths.
He said this was in view of the encouraging response to the implementation of the Gerak and Ustev programmes, for which the state government allocated RM3.4 million last year.
“This programme is expected to benefit over 1,300 entrepreneurs including youths. Since its implementation in 2018, my ministry has approved 375 applications worth RM5.73 million,” he said.
Initiative 6: Providing RM20 million under the Go Digital Sarawak programme (new initiative).
Seeing that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many entrepreneurs venturing into online business, Awang Tengah said the chief minister had allocated RM20 million for the implementation of the Go Digital Sarawak programme.
“This assistance is in the form of grants to purchase hardware with a maximum of RM10,000 for entrepreneurs who have and want to get involved in digital entrepreneurship (eCommerce and ePayment),” he said, adding that the programme was expected to benefit over 2,000 SMEs.
Initiative 7: Providing RM2 million under the Digital Marketing Training programme (new initiative).
To encourage local entrepreneurs to adapt to the digital economy in their businesses, he said the chief minister had also provided RM2 million allocation to carry out digital marketing training programmes.
“This programme will be implemented free for interested local entrepreneurs. It is expected to benefit more than 2,000 entrepreneurs in Sarawak,” he said.
Awang Tengah said applications for SKMS could be made via Agrobank and the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC).
He said SPIKS, Gerak, Ustev, Go Digital Sarawak, and Digital Marketing Training were open for application through his ministry.
“We will work together with Tabung Ekonomi Gagasan Anak Sarawak (Tegas) on the implementation of the Digital Marketing Training programme,” he said.
He hoped local entrepreneurs would make full use of the facilities provided by the state government and that these additional initiatives would help to ease the burden of entrepreneurs.