Image credit: Berita Harian

KUALA LUMPUR: The government remains responsive and committed to placing special emphasis on the needs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in weathering the impact of Covid-19.

Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives (Medac) minister Tan Sri Noh Omar said initiatives have been ongoing through various stimulus packages to help ease SMEs' burdens during the pandemic.

He said since March 2020, the government has allocated RM196 billion to assist SMEs in weathering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The measures have been and are being implemented through 10 comprehensive economic packages, which the government included in the 2021 and 2022 Budget," he said during his speech at the soft launch of the Enterprise (E50) Award.

After a two-year hiatus, the E50 Award, which recognises the outstanding accomplishments of Malaysia's top 50 enterprising SMEs, is now back on track, following its soft launch here today.

The award ceremony was organised by SME Corp Malaysia, an agency under Medac.

Since its inception in 1997, the award ceremony has served as an important barometer for SMEs to benchmark their business performance based on a reliable, impartial, and stringent evaluation conducted by independent industry players and experts.

Noh said in the next five years, the focus will be placed on accelerating the development of strategic and high impact industries, namely aerospace, creative, biomass and smart farming activities.

"Efforts will be aimed at promoting high technology adoption, talent upskilling, innovation and research and development to transform these industries into producing high value-added products and services, expanding global markets, and attracting quality investments," he added.

Meanwhile, SME Corp chairman Datuk Seri Syed Hussien Al-Habshee said as the country recovers from the Covid-19, the need to rejuvenate SMEs as one of the most affected groups has never been greater.

"With 95.3 per cent of SMEs experiencing a sharp decline in sales in the early period of containment, the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic requires a strong determination in ensuring that concerted efforts are undertaken to ensure that SMEs continue to survive," he said.

The E50 nomination period begins today, from March 1 to June 30, 2022.

It will culminate with the E50 Award 2022 Gala Dinner in November 2022, when all 50 winners will be announced.

To date, a total of 503 companies, which fulfilled four-star and above ratings from the SME Competitiveness Rating for Enhancement (SCORE) Programme, have been nominated for the award.

Food and beverages, manufacturing, manufacturing-related services, and business and professional services have been the top three categories by industry.