KUALA LUMPUR: The government will pay serious attention to ensure that the small and medium industries (SME) will continue to develop not only in Malaysia but also in regional markets, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.

According to him, SMEs are very important to the country’s development because it provides more than eight million job opportunities to Malaysians.

In the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), Ismail Sabri said the government intends to ensure that SMEs will contribute a targeted 45% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025.

“This target is realistic as SMEs contributed 39% of Malaysia’s GDP in 2019, before it was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic two years ago and the recent floods at the end of last year.

“The government has taken various measures to ensure SMEs, including micro- and informal entrepreneurs can continue their business,” he said when officiating the 2022 National Entrepreneurs Day at World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (March 26) night.

The prime minister said the government is working to ensure the entrepreneurs can develop their businesses, including under the Semarak Niaga programme, with billions of ringgit in funds to help them obtain funding to expand.

In addition, the Tekun Nasional Micro Sector Business Recovery Financing Scheme offers interest free loans of up to RM10,000 and priority will be given to traders in the informal sector, with funds for this programme totalling RM200 million.

“Agrobank also offers interest-free loans of up to RM75,000 with a six-month moratorium facility.

“Meanwhile, SME Bank offers loans of up to RM10 million under the IBS Promotion Fund 2.0 scheme and RM1 million under the Youth Entrepreneur Financing Programme 2.0. Collectively, the fund size for both schemes total RM300 million,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry, which works closely with entrepreneurs, plays an important role in ensuring all government initiatives will help those in need.

The prime minister also expressed hope that entrepreneurs would master new technology, especially digitisation to ensure they are not left behind, as digitisation can help rural products to reach a wider market.

To achieve that, he said strategic partnerships between entrepreneurs and government agencies need to be strengthened, so that every initiative implemented could be translated into action well.

In addition, Ismail Sabri was confident that entrepreneurs under the auspices of Dewan Perniagaan Usahawan Kecil Malaysia (DPUKM) would strive and remain committed to the continued progress of their business.

This is because entrepreneurs play a big role to ensure that the country continues to prosper with a rapidly developing economy, he added.

Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar and National Entrepreneurs Day chairman Datuk Seri Abu Hasan Mohd Nor were also present at the event.

The National Entrepreneurs Day 2022 is organised by DPUKM and is taking place between March 24 to 28.