SMALL and Medium Industries Development Corp (Smidec) has approved more loan and grant applications so far in the current 8th Malaysia Plan (8MP) period than during the entire duration of the 7MP.
During the 7MP (1996-2000), the government agency gave the nod to 4,001 applications, with grants and loans totalling RM261.06mil.
While the 8MP (2001-2005) is still in progress, Ministry of International Trade and Industry parliamentary secretary Datin Paduka Dr Tan Yee Kew told StarBiz that the number of applications approved to-date had hit 6,195, which was 55% more than the figure during the 7MP.
The amount of financial assistance approved also rose, albeit marginally to RM270.33mil.
The response (to grants and loans) has been very good. We have exhausted some of the funds and are requesting for more, Tan said.
On soft loan schemes that were less popular, Tan said she would like to see a better response to the soft loan scheme for factory relocation, which would help illegal factories to shift to designated industrial sites.
Having a proper factory will allow SMEs (small and medium-scale enterprises) to go for international certifications such as ISO and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point), she noted.
Tan said the SMEs' awareness of funds available was not yet high.
Dissemination of information is very important, not just on loans and grants, but also the technology available in the country, she added.
Smidec strives to create awareness among the SMEs on government policies and assistance available, and at times it teams up with industry associations to do so.
In 2004, Smidec conducted 36 briefings and workshops for SMEs, with a total of 4,268 participants, Tan said.