Govt should provide interest-free loans for SMEs, says Pejuang

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PETALING JAYA: Pejuang’s economic and entrepreneurship bureau head Armin Baniaz Pahamin today called for the government to provide interest-free loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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He said Malaysia should emulate Japan which he said had allocated US$250 billion (RM1.03 trillion) for such loans to all business categories.

“The loans could be tabled under the 2021 Budget or provided by Bank Negara Malaysia.

“A grant with a maximum amount of RM30,000 as start-up capital for small traders should also be provided to the unemployed or employees who have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 outbreak and who want to start a business,” he said in a statement.

Armin urged the government to act proactively and aggressively to amend the 2021 Budget or announce additional incentives as proposed above.

“The finance ministry cannot continue to spend time defending the contents of the budget which has failed to support the recovery of the domestic market and economy,” he said.

Armin, the former chairman and president of the Proton Edar Dealers Association, also questioned the effectiveness of the initiatives under the Penjana economic recovery plan meant for SMEs.

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Referring to media reports that 32,000 SMEs had gone bankrupt since the pandemic started, Armin said this number does not include companies that are no longer in operation but are still registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM).

He added that the figure also does not take into account companies that suffered severe losses but could not close their businesses because they are still indebted to banks and suppliers.

“According to SME Association of Malaysia president Michael Kang, there are more than 100,000 companies that have closed shop and stopped operating since the Covid-19 pandemic.

“So how effective really are the Penjana incentives for SMEs?” Armin asked.

Last week, Entrepreneurship Development and Cooperatives Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar refuted media reports that 32,000 SMEs had become bankrupt since the pandemic started.

The minister said that the statistics given on companies that had closed shop from March to September not only referred to SMEs but to all registered companies under SSM.

Pointing out the 82,555 new businesses registered from April 1 to July 19, Wan Junaidi said this showed that the pandemic did not prevent the establishment of new businesses. – FMT

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