Awang Tengah speaks at Astro Awani’s talk show entitled ‘Digital Economy: Post Covid-19 Economic Development Strategy’.

KUCHING: The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the business landscape, and the way forward is for small-medium enterprises (SMEs) to go digital.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the SMEs needed to adapt to the latest technologies for the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0) in order to be able to compete and remain relevant in today’s new business landscape.

“We have to learn from this pandemic which has impacted and changed the business landscape to which SMEs need to adapt quickly in line with technology development such as IR 4.0 and digital marketing to accelerate their operations,” he said during the Astro Awani’s talk show Agenda Awani entitled ‘Digital Economy: Post Covid-19 Economic Development Strategy’ on Sunday.

He said with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg introducing digital economy three years ago, the public should already realise its importance.

“It has been proven that during the movement control order (MCO) period, many businesses were using digital platforms to provide their services,” he said. 

Awang Tengah, who is also Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminals and Entrepreneurship, said all economic sectors in Sarawak were affected by the pandemic and because of that, the Sarawak government had announced the three ‘Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS)’ packages worth RM2.55 billion to assist Sarawakians of all levels including the business community.

“To assist the entrepreneurs, the Sarawak Micro Credit Scheme worth RM50 million under the BKSS was announced.

“As of June 17, 2020, 640 SME applications for the Sarawak Micro Credit Scheme involving RM25.8 million were received, while 97 applications worth RM3.1 million were approved,” he said.

Furthermore, he said, under the federal government’s Prihatin package, the Sarawak government had agreed to absorb the interests for the SMEs and Sarawak was the only state that provided interest free financial services for the Special Relief Fund (SRF).

“And as of June 16, 2020, a total of 2,310 applications worth RM858 million were approved by seven participating banks,” he said.

He added that while for the RM1,500 special grant for registered hawkers and petty traders with the local authorities, a total of 13,592 applications were approved and paid out as of June 24, 2020, while the remaining 17,945 applications are still awaiting approval.

“I hope with these assistance and other initiatives under the BKSS packages, it would ease the burden of the business community and Sarawakians affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

On another note, he said as almost all economic sectors reopened under the recovery movement control order (RMCO) period, the people has been advised to continue to observe the fixed standard operating procedures (SOPs).