KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 — The government has subsidised about 30 per cent of salary payments for small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) during the Movement Control Order (MCO) to avoid retrenchment and reduce the number of people retrenched.

Neil Foo, the Malaysian representative of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Small and Medium Enterprise Forum (Apec SME Forum), said many SMEs had received the aid under the government’s Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN) billion which was unveiled recently.

“Apart from wage subsidies under the PRIHATIN package, several measures such as the six-month deferment in car loan and housing loan repayments have given some relief to the SMEs,” he said at a special web conference organised by China-based World Chinese Economic Forum (WCEF) today.

An additional stimulus package (known as PRIHATIN Plus) worth RM10 billion to assist SMEs tide over Covid-19 was announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on April 6 on top of the RM250 billion PRIHATIN package introduced on March 27.

Foo said about 70 per cent of SMEs in Malaysia operate their businesses with less than three months cash flows.

“If the MCO ends (on May 12, as scheduled), they will need another month to gear up in order to sustain their businesses,” he said.

However, with the assistance provided by the government under the PRIHATIN package, Foo was optimistic that Malaysia’s economic activities would pick up, particularly in the second half of the year.

“When the government gives out money to the people, they will start spending. And when they spend, the economy will improve and this will help business operators,” he added.

Meanwhile, former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said although Malaysia has managed to control the spread of Covid-19, things will not be the same post Covid-19.

Lee, who is also Gopeng Member of Parliament, said the biggest challenge was still practising social distancing, and how to ensure that the economic, sport, education and other activities could run smoothly, while the people adapting to this “new culture’”.

“But I believe Malaysians will do all they can to ensure sustainable economic development,” he said. — Bernama

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