Entrepreneurs, business owners want second stimulus package

The Bukit Bintang MRT station stands largely deserted in the normally bustling area of downtown Kuala Lumpur. The Covid-19 outbreak has had a negative effect on much of the country’s economy.

KUALA LUMPUR: A coalition of associations representing entrepreneurs and business owners is urging Putrajaya to roll out a second stimulus package, following the government’s decision to announce a movement control order in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its spokesman, Shahul Dawood, said the second stimulus package should be aimed at small-medium entrepreneurs, self-employed entrepreneurs and those who have been laid off.

Putrajaya announced on Feb 27 a RM20 billion economic stimulus package to mitigate the impact of the outbreak in the country.

Shahul Dawood (3rd from left) says RM20 billion may not be enough to help SMEs cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced additional aid for those affected by the pandemic, including RM600 for workers forced to go on unpaid leave beginning March 1.

However, Shahul said the RM3.5 billion allocated for SMEs and entrepreneurs under the first stimulus package was insufficient.

“If you ask me, even RM20 billion might not be enough to sustain or get the entrepreneurs back on track.

“That said, I can’t tell how much we need now to help the economy,” he said, adding that the SMEs and small-medium industries are the backbone of the country.

Muhyiddin also announced a partial lockdown of all public activities in the country from tomorrow until March 31.

This includes the closure of all private premises except for essential services such as water, electricity and transport.

Apart from a second stimulus package, the associations are seeking a six-month deferment on statutory obligation payments like the Employees Provident Fund and Socso as well as utility bills.

They are also pushing Putrajaya for an exemption on the sales and services tax as well as special incentives for businesses using digital technology.

They also want the government to waive the tourism and entertainment tax and postpone the Visit Malaysia Year 2020 and other low-impact projects.

They said these proposals will be sent to the prime minister this evening.