Budget 2012 offering SMEs a boost

PETALING JAYA: The Budget 2012 has goodies for budding entrepreneurs. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak aimed the incentives at encouraging entreprenuership, especially at small and medium enterprises.

The Government will provide RM100mil for the SME Revitalisation Fund, which offers soft loans of up to a maximum of RM1mil for entrepreneurs to revive their businesses.

The fund, which will be managed by SME Bank and be available from January, gives SMEs a second chance at building a successful business.

Najib reasoned that business failures are not usually due to lack of business acumen, but to factors beyond the control of the entrepreneurs. Among these factors would be rising costs and economic recession.

“Genuine entrepreneurs must be given a second chance to succeed,” said the Prime Minister.

The Government will also be establishing an SME Emergency Fund, which will amount to RM10mil, to assist businesses affected by natural disasters.

This is a proactive measure to help SMEs recover and restart their businesses quickly in the event of a disaster.

The money will be channelled to SMEs in the form of grants and soft loans through SME Corp and the Malaysian Industrial Development Finance.

The scope of financing will include procurement of equipment and machines to replace machines destroyed in the disaster, purchase of raw materials, as well as to repair and restore their premises.

The Government will also host the the Asia Business Angel Forum, with the help of fund manager Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, which Najib said will be a platform for networking between investors and financiers, as well as the entrepreneur community.

Such goodies have impressed several parties within the technology industry. The National ICT Association of Malaysia (Pikom) called the move “progressive” and said it addresses the varied interests of the people.

Its president and chief executive officer, Shaifubahrim Saleh, said Pikom is pleased with the funding that will be offered to SMEs through incentives and soft loans.

“As many of our members are SMEs, such funding will help them through their growth phase and the difficulties caused by shrinking margins,” said Shaifubahrim.

He also said the liberalisation of services, especially in the areas of accounting, legal services and communications, will have a positive impact by spurring outsourcing activities to local shores.

Pikom also hailed the move to set up the MyCreative Venture Capital fund, which will help innovators cope with the cost of creating their products.

“The local ICT industry will need to keep pace in training, product and market development to remain relevant in the face of increasing competition,” said Shaifubahrim.

Pikom applauded the organisation of the Asia Business Angels Forum. “This ties in perfectly with the Pikom Angel Chapter, which was launched this year,” he said.

Custodian of the MSC Malaysia initiative, The Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC) is also pleased with the measures provided by the Government in Budget 2012. It said these will help push Malaysia to be more competitive globally.

“The various initiatives including the Government’s proposal to award pioneer status to industrial design services and giving them income tax exemption of 70% for five years will definitely promote creativity and innovation through modern technology for local designers,” MDeC CEO Datuk Badlisham Ghazali said.

He said the increased aid for the SME sector, via the Commercialisation Innovation Fund, will further encourage the pervasive adoption of ICT in the largest business segment of the country, and subsequently enable businesses to carve out new and better niches in their respective sectors.

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