KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) welcomes the stimulus package for small and medium enterprises (SME) announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday.

It said there are options available to general practitioners (GPs) to help them manage the impact of the Movement Control Order (MCO) on their respective clinics.

It adds that the 7,700 GPs and specialist clinics which are registered with the Health Ministry (MoH) have been an engine of growth in the healthcare space.

This sector has been providing employment for a workforce of more than 40,000 consisting of more than 80 per cent women.

“Since the MCO was issued, there has been a drastic drop in patient visits to clinics,” it said in a statement today.

The MMA adds that about 30 per cent of the GP clinics are registered with the registrar of companies while the rest are sole proprietors. The clinics come under the services sector with the majority employing more than 5 staff hence they can be classified under the micro and small industry.

Each clinic which is mandated to register with MoH will be issued a registration form called Form B, D or F, where the practicing doctors need to renew their practicing license with the Malaysian Medical Council.

“As the Form B, D or F issued by MoH is a mandatory registration to operate, we urge the government to accept these documents apart from the registration with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM), SOCSO or local authorities issued before Jan 1, 2020,” it urged.

The MMA said under the RM10 billion Economic Stimulus package announced for SMEs, clinic owners can consider managing the impact of the MCO via the following schemes:

1. Wage subsidy program under SOCSO: For companies with employees of less than 75, a wage subsidy of RM1,200 per month per employee is provided. This can be applied under the which will be open for submission soon.

2. The micro credit and soft loan scheme for micro enterprises: Clinics facing problems in cash flow may tap this fund. In the package, the earlier 2 per cent interest rate has been abolished under the Bank Simpanan Nasional Micro Credit Scheme of RM500 million. The soft loan scheme for micro enterprises is also extended to Tekun Nasional with a maximum loan limit of RM10,000 at zero per cent for each enterprise. Applicants are given an option to choose from either scheme to benefit from this facility.

3. Rental reduction of private premises: The clinics can start negotiating with shop owners for reduction in rental. The prime minister has urged owners of private premises to provide assistance to their tenants to reduce their rental rates. Owners of buildings or business spaces that provide rental reduction or waiver to SME tenants are given a further tax deduction which is equivalent to the amount of rental reduction for the months of April until June 2020. This further tax deduction is subject to the condition that the rental reduction is at least 30 per cent of the original rental rate for that particular period.

4. Loan applications through the IMSME portal: Apart from direct loans from banking institutions, all SMEs have an option to apply for loans through the IMSME portal. This portal provides myKNP (Khidmat Nasihat Pembiayaan) services - a financing advisory service for SMEs.

5. Pay cuts and unpaid leave: With the reduction in patient visits and operating hours, staff wages during the crisis period may be difficult to sustain. The clinic owners can negotiate for a win-win situation between both parties during this period. The government encourages employers to actively engage with their employees on employment terms including the options of pay cuts and unpaid leave during the MCO period. Employers and employees may refer to the Department of Labour to seek advice on solutions for issues raised. Any negotiations should be subjected to employment laws currently being enforced. What is important is that the rights and welfare of both sides are taken care of.

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