TAILOR Titin Liyana Buhaqi Amin, 42, was on the verge of giving up as she could no longer get orders after the movement control order (MCO) was imposed.

She started selling rendang and hand sanitiser to make ends meet. However, with the Government’s new National Entrepreneur Group Economic Fund’s (Tekun) interest-free loan under the second stimulus package, Titin believes she can keep her business afloat.

The soft loan scheme allows for a maximum loan of RM10,000 at 0% interest for each enterprise. “With this, I won’t have to close shop, ” said Titin.

However, she usually makes most of her income during Ramadan and with the uncertain situation because of the Covid-19 pandemic, she fears her business may take a longer time to recover.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had on Tuesday announced a RM10bil package to help SMEs ride out the Covid-19 storm.

About 80% of the total amount will be for additional wage subsidies for those drawing RM4,000 and below a month.

The remaining RM2.1bil would be in the form of special grants for eligible micro SMEs, with 700,000 of such companies expected to receive RM3,000 each.

Business development manager KK Lee, who initially planned to downsize his company by reducing the number of staff, was thankful for the announcement.

“The second package has made me change my mind. I believe it is really meant to prevent SMEs from closing down, ” said Lee, adding that he has 20 employees.

A company managing director Datuk Zahar Hashim, 59, suggested the government provide the wage subsidy for a longer period.

“About 40% of the country’s economy is made up of SMEs and it is clear that their business has been badly affected because of the MCO.

“The stimulus package will definitely help but I believe the government should prolong the period by up to six months as the economy is not only affected in Malaysia but also globally.”

Zahar also hoped for less bureaucracy to ensure those who were really in need would receive the subsidy.

“With the aid, employers can continue their business and keep all their employees, ” he said.

Garment business owner Nora Foo described the subsidy as a short-term solution.

“We have zero business now. Even with the wage subsidy, we still need to find other ways to pay our employees, for overheads and other costs, ” she said.

“I hope the government will come up with another stimulus package that is targetted at solving challenges faced by SMEs in maintaining our operations, ” said Foo, adding that she had about 30 employees.

She suggested that employers be given more flexibility to negotiate with their employees on remuneration programmes.

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