S'wak approves RM141.7mil as special aid for SMEs

KUCHING: The state government has approved RM141.7mil as additional initiatives for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) under the Sarawakku Sayang special aid package.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan (pic) said the fund included RM22mil for two new initiatives to boost digital entrepreneurship.

"In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many entrepreneurs have ventured into doing business online to generate revenue.

"As such, the Chief Minister has agreed to allocate RM20mil for the Go Digital Sarawak programme, which will provide grants up to RM10,000

for purchasing hardware to entrepreneurs who are doing or want to get involved in digital businesses," he told a press conference on Wednesday (Feb 3).

Awang Tengah said the programme was expected to benefit 2,000 SMEs in the state.

He said in addition, RM2mil had been allocated to a digital marketing training programme to help local entrepreneurs adapt to the digital economy.

The training would be provided free to interested entrepreneurs, he said.

Awang Tengah also said the state would provide an additional RM50mil to the Sarawak micro-credit scheme, which offers soft loans up to

RM50,000 to SMEs as well as micro and B40 entrepreneurs.

Under this scheme, he said B40 entrepreneurs would enjoy interest-free loans up to RM10,000 while SMEs could get financing up to RM50,000 with three-and-a-half years of interest subsidy from the state government.

"The state government also agreed to extend the loan moratorium by six months for existing borrowers, while new applications approved up to June 30 this year will also enjoy the six months' moratorium," said Awang Tengah.

The loan scheme for small and medium industries (SPIKS) also received an additional allocation of RM20mil to assist bumiputra entrepreneurs in terms of working capital and purchase of machinery or equipment.

Awang Tengah said new applications approved before June 30 would also enjoy six months' moratorium and three-and-a-half years of interest subsidy.

For the Federal Government's targeted relief and recovery facility (TRRF) and Penjana tourism financing (PTF), the state would allocate

RM22.2mil and RM2.5mil, respectively, to provide interest subsidiesfor three-and-a-half years to successful Sarawak applicants.

To date, 279 applications from Sarawak SMEs have been approved under TRRF and 26 under PTF.

"We will collaborate with 12 local banks to implement this initiative, namely CIMB, Hong Leong Bank, Maybank, Muamalat Bank, Public Bank, RHB

Bank, SME Bank, Agrobank, Alliance Bank, Ambank, Bank Rakyat and Bank Islam.

"Sarawak is the only state that provides interest subsidies for these initiatives, meaning that the interest will be borne by the state government for three-and-a-half years," he said.

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