Better aid packages in store for SMEs, says minister

Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

KUALA LUMPUR: Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar says the government will improve on existing aid packages for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to further mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said this would be announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin next week after discussions at the ministry level are brought to the Economic Action Council.

“We will wait for the prime minister’s announcement on the issues we can resolve and fulfil for the benefit of SMEs.

“This is because we cannot deny their contributions to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP),” he said before appearing as a guest on a talk show programme on Bernama last night.

He was responding to the SME entrepreneurs who had voiced dissatisfaction over the RM250 billion Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package announced by the government last week.

He said the government would never deny the importance of SMEs but that the priority at the moment was to overcome the virus pandemic.

“The government has always realised the importance of assisting the SMEs, but we need to prioritise the effort to flatten the pandemic curve.

“We do not want to be like Italy. The economy may prosper as much as it wants, but this would mean nothing if there are countless deaths.”

He added that Muhyiddin had ordered the creation of a Cabinet committee to study how to resolve issues pertaining to the economy as well as Covid-19-related matters.

At the ministerial level, he said, he had instructed that studies be done on the affected industries to ensure no further slide in the economy.

“As soon as the movement control order was enforced, the government was aware of these issues.

“We are also concerned and do not wish to see the possibility of many SMEs folding. That is why the government asked for a moratorium and rental waivers to be agreed upon first.

“Right now we are even helping small and informal businesses such as the makcik who sells kuih,” he added.