April 2, 2020


I am puzzled that the woes and outcries of SMEs are not being addressed until today.

SMEs constitute 98% of corporations in Malaysia, 65% of employment and 38% GDP in Malaysia. It is predicted that 50% SMEs face the risks of closing down with up to 4 million people losing their jobs. It is a sector too important to be ignored, to say the least.

However, the stimulus package announced by Tan Sri Muhyiddin on 27 Mac is largely about direct hand-outs to the rakyat, with insufficient attention given to job protection, financing option and training (retraining) needs.

After several rounds of delay, PN-led government finally agreed to announce further packages for the SMEs (and hopefully the self-employed persons) on coming Monday. I urge the government to incorporate the following aspects into the plan:

1. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐛𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐲 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐦 𝐦𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐫𝐨𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐑𝐌𝟔𝟎𝟎-𝐟𝐨𝐫-𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐞𝐞-𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐡 𝐩𝐚𝐜𝐤𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐛𝐢𝐠𝐠𝐞𝐫 𝐪𝐮𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐮𝐦 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐨𝐝.

Protection of jobs are more important than giving handouts. Jobs are the result of capital formation and an important input in economic activities. If jobs are not protected, especially in the SME sector, it will destroy hundreds of thousands of enterprise and millions of ordinary people losing their jobs. It will give a long and catastrophic impacts to our nation’s competitiveness and economic resilience.

2. 𝐅𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐞𝐧𝐥𝐚𝐫𝐠𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐥𝐲 𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐞.

Currently the relief is largely for property and hire purchase financing. It has not yet cover the more important financing for SMEs such as inventory, pre-develiry, and overseas capital financing. I am intrigued that the SME Bank, Exim Bank, MIDF and other state-own financial institutions have not been mobilized yet for this purpose. Aren’t their mission is to assist the sector when it is needed?

3. 𝐒𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲, 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐛𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠/𝐫𝐞𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐨𝐲𝐞𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐮𝐧𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐨𝐲𝐞𝐝.

I am surprised that the Ministry of Human Resources has been silent on this until today. As in other countries, the government must step in to provide direction and sufficient resources for upskilling and training in the sectors most relevant to the post-Covid19 world. As much as we do not want anyone to be left behind in time of crisis, we also must prepare our people so that they are not left behind in time of recovery.

More importantly, there is a thin line between being responsible and being populist. Helping SMEs are not helping the towkays as some might perceive, but are protecting jobs for our neighbours and ordinary people.

YB Lee Chean Chung

Treasurer General KEADILAN

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