SME association happy with stimulus package

The Small and Medium Enterprises Association says the RM2 billion soft loan at 3.75% interest will be especially useful for SMEs which had seen a cancellation or deferment of orders. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Small and Medium Enterprises Association (Samenta) welcomes the RM20 billion economic stimulus package announced by interim Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today to mitigate the negative impact of Covid-19.

Stating that it appreciated the government’s focus on the tourism, hotel and transportation sectors – which have been among the earliest casualties of Covid-19 – Samenta said the numerous incentives provided to the sectors would ease the burden of business owners.

Samenta highlighted in a statement today the deferment of corporate income tax payment, electricity subsidy, exemption of service tax and a RM1,000 tax relief for Malaysians to choose domestic travel destinations.

“The retail sector, which has been badly hit by Covid-19, will also benefit from the RM10 billion freed up from the reduced employee EPF contributions and an earlier Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) payout,” said William Ng, Samenta’s policy and government relations chairman.

Mahathir announced that the RM200 payment to BSH recipients would be moved forward to March 2020 from May 2020. In addition, all BSH recipients will receive RM100 in May 2020 and a further RM50 in the form of e-tunai.

For SMEs in general, the government has set aside a RM2 billion soft loan at 3.75% interest for working capital, and Ng said this would be especially useful for SMEs which had seen cancellation or deferment of orders.

“We had earlier proposed an interest-free loan facility, but while this is not allocated for, the soft loan is equally welcome,” said Ng.

He also called upon the government and government agencies to relax rules on a case-by-case basis for companies that might not be able to completely comply with certain regulations due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

“This includes allowing deferment without penalty for submission of annual returns,” said Ng.

Ng told FMT that some companies were facing challenges to complete their annual returns in time as auditors and other professional firms might be impacted by travel rules in view of Covid-19

According to Louis Looi, the manager of local ice cream chain Frozen, the economic stimulus programme comes at the right time for Malaysia.

“Obviously, business has been affected by Covid-19, but we’ve introduced new innovations such as ice creams made with Yakult, blueberry and Vitamin C to try to regain some of the business.”