Govt tweaking stimulus package to further help SMEs, says Tok Pa

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed says meetings have been held with SME stakeholders and new proposals are being considered.

PETALING JAYA: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Mustapa Mohamed said Putrajaya is reviewing the aid measures announced for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

In a live interview with Astro Awani, Mustapa said the government had several engagements with stakeholders from the SME sector this week and would be considering a new set of proposals in the coming days.

“The prime minister views this with concern and we are getting feedback from the SME community.

“We acknowledge, after having had this intensive interaction with them, that we need to revisit some of these proposals. And this is being actively considered by the government,” he said.

Mustapa, commonly known as Tok Pa, said the final proposals could be ready as early as Monday, adding that the finance ministry was in the midst of refining them.

Acknowledging that SMEs required working capital and that they had protested the low wage subsidy offered, as they had insufficient funds to pay salaries, he reiterated that Putrajaya was taking all this into consideration.

He said there was some room for an increase in the wage subsidy from RM600 per employee a month but maintained that the matter was still being discussed.

He said the government’s top priority was to aid the B40 low-income group first, then the SMEs.

“Those who have lost their jobs, those involved in small businesses, those in the informal sector … they represent a large chunk of the population, those earning RM4,000 and below.

“Next would be the SMEs. In terms of help given by the government, the wage subsidy is one.

“The waiver of principal payments for six months will, of course, relieve them of some cash flow pressures that they’re having.”

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced the RM250 billion stimulus package last Friday to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, with RM100 billion allocated for businesses and SMEs.

The measures announced drew mixed reactions, with SMEs and businesses being the main critics of the second economic stimulus package for the Covid-19 crisis.

Mustapa also dismissed calls for a special parliamentary sitting to debate the package, highlighting that the government had spent billions in 2014 to resolve the national flood situation before going to Parliament the following year.

He said Putrajaya was allowed to come up with additional spending based on the current situation, adding that the package will eventually be debated in Parliament.

“We’ve done many things in the past without going to Parliament. But, of course, eventually, we’re going to Parliament.

“That’s the law; anything that goes beyond the budget needs parliamentary approval. We have what we call the supplementary budget,” he said.