Young entrepreneurs need lifeline, says Sabah minister

Sabah Youth and Sports Minister Phoong Jin Zhe says many SMEs will have to close shop if the Covid-19 crisis drags on for too long.

KOTA KINABALU: A Sabah minister has called for further assistance for young entrepreneurs, saying they have been neglected in the government’s RM250 billion economic stimulus package.

State Youth and Sports Minister Phoong Jin Zhe said many of these entrepreneurs running small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) had lost their sources of income because of the movement control order (MCO) enforced to curb the spread of Covid-19.

He said many would have to close shop if the situation dragged on for a long time.

To give these entrepreneurs a lifeline, he said, Putrajaya should consider extending them financial assistance, a tax holiday, and deferment of payment of their taxes.

Phoong also cited how Singapore was subsidising employees’ salaries by between 25% and 75%.

“I am concerned about their situation. They will have to cut costs by laying off workers to survive and sustain their enterprises.

“They are worried about how to pay salaries and rentals because not all property owners are willing to allow them to defer or delay their rental payments,” he said.

Saying only Putrajaya would be able to “save them”, he noted that not all SMEs would be eligible to apply for loans to tide them over.

And even though the government had proposed to channel RM600 to each employee earning less than RM4,000 a month for three months, “it does not solve all their problems”, he said.