Six proposals to help SMEs

A filepic of workers at a furniture factory in Kuala Langat, Selangor. SMEs are badly affected by the MCO and many need help from the government to avoid retrenching workers. — Filepic

SIBU: Sibu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) has proposed six measures the government can take to assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) hit hard by the movement control order (MCO).

In a press statement, SCCCI said SMEs are already feeling the impact of the order, enforced since March 18 to contain the spread of Covid-19.

“Help is urgently needed. We propose the following assistance to support SMEs including, but not limited to wage subsidies, with 50% from Federal Government, 25% from the states, and 25% from employers.

“Other measures include waiving employers’ contribution to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Social Security Organisation (Socso) for three months; halve personal and corporate income tax for 2020 and 2021; waive Sales and Service Tax (SST) for 2020; waive utility bills during MCO for affected businesses; and exclude government staff and households with income less than RM8,000 per month from the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional Programme, ” it suggested.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had on March 27, announced a RM250bil economic stimulus package, which the chamber claimed provided little assistance to ease the financial and operational burden of SMEs.Over two-thirds of enterprises in Malaysia are SMEs and micro-enterprises and they make a significant contribution to the economy.

“Since the MCO was enforced, most SMEs’ operations have been suspended. However, these SMEs are required to continue to pay their employees their full salaries and are not allowed to insist their employees take annual leave or unpaid leave during MCO period.

“These restrictions significantly increases the financial burden and many SMEs may not survive past MCO period, ” it claimed.

SCCCI felt that the stimulus packages announced thus far did little to keep these SMEs in business.

“The Bantuan Prihatin Nasional programme supports individuals. And it is still unclear how the wage subsidy programme, which is aimed at helping employers retain their workers, will benefit businesses, ” it said.

The wage subsidy programme announced by the Federal Government channels a subsidy worth RM600 to employers for every employee who earns RM4,000 and below (limited to 100 employees) for three months.

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