Not enough stimulus for SMEs, says Sabah employers group

Eateries in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, stay shut to comply with the movement control order.

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Employers Association has criticised the economic stimulus package announced by the prime minister yesterday as falling short of giving the required help to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Its president Yap Cheen Boon told FMT the package did not adequately address SMEs’ concerns over cash flow and salary costs.

“The RM600 wage subsidy can only buy time for the month of April for some SMEs,” he said.

Without adequate cash flow, he added, the SME economy would “only spiral downwards” after April.

The stimulus package, aimed at cushioning the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, is worth RM250 billion. Of the amount, RM100 billion would be for businesses, including SMEs.

Sabah Employers Association president Yap Cheen Boon.

“Considering that 93% of SMEs are facing difficulties by the government’s own estimation, the pool of funds looks very small for sharing,” Yap said.

“Sabah alone has about 50,000 SMEs, spread across all the affected sectors of tourism, oil palm, timber, manufacturing and related services.

“How well Sabahan SMEs will be able to access these initiatives is not looking optimistic, judging from past experience.”

Yap proposed that the government consider what he called “flexible approaches” on labour issues, such as allowing employers and employees to jointly work out the best solutions for their companies’ survival.

In taking these approaches, he said, the participants should, as much as possible, take advantage of the offers in the stimulus package.

He urged government agencies to make it easy and speedy to apply for the offers and to lower the qualifying criteria so that no SME would be left out.