KUALA LUMPUR: The announcement of the ‘Additional Prihatin Package’ for the small-and-medium enterprises (SME) by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has mildly strengthened businesses and their workforce.

Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Malaysia (FICCIM) president Datuk R. Ramanathan said the measures would keep the SMEs afloat for at least three months till June.

“The government should be applauded for this rescue package of RM10 billion that directly reduces 50 per cent burden of the SMEs to pay their employee salaries which are between the range of RM2,000-RM3,000 per month.

“The majority of 80 per cent SMEs who benefit are those who account for more than two-thirds of the number of jobs in the country and close to 40 per cent of the economy.

“This is a saviour move to protect and safeguard the SMEs in the country,” said Ramanathan, who is also the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry president.

To further strengthen this wage subsidy programme, he called on the government to remove the condition of having a ceiling monthly salary of RM4,000 & a 50 per cent reduction in revenue, in order to qualify for the package.

“The wage subsidy should be fairly distributed to all employees in a company.

“The abolishment of the 2 per cent interest under the RM500 million microcredit scheme and easy loan scheme for small companies via Tekun Nasional with a maximum loan limit of RM10,000 per company at zero-per cent interest, is also a good move to start with.

“However, to ensure a smooth business continuity after the pandemic disruption ends, automatic 2 per cent loans or overdraft facilities ought to be granted to all eligible SMEs.

“This should include a rescue funding based on 10 per cent of their business revenue the past one year, from January 2019 till February 2020 and capped at a maximum RM100,000 per entity,” Ramanathan said.

Such funding should be automatically granted by the respective banks of the SMEs where their current company account was maintained. If the SMEs have multiple current accounts from various banks, than only one bank shall provide this facility.

Ramanathan also requested for credit-checking measures (via CCRIS and CTOS) to be exempted for the rescue funding.

He said the special grant worth RM2.1 billion which extended RM3,000 for micro enterprises was something which was not significantly liquidating for their businesses.

“Micro enterprises are entities with turnover of RM300,000 or with less than five employees. “During the MCO period, the micro enterprises are also badly affected . Mostly are sole-proprietorship, partnership and limited liabilities entities.

“Thus the government should exempt their business licensing renewal fees, Companies Commission of Malaysia renewal fees and finally exempt them from income tax for year this year,” he suggested.

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