1MINE asks govt to allocate RM2b for new SMEs to cope with Covid-19

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Indian Network of Entrepreneurs Association (1MINE) hopes the government would consider allocating special relief facility amounting to RM2 billion for newly registered small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which have commenced operations just before the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced on March 18.

Its president Datuk S.Gopinath said special incentives are needed for newly registered micro-businesses like SMEs to maintain operations amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

He said for a start, the finance ministry could introduce a loan relief, special incentives or exemptions to newly registered SMEs besides financial institutions playing a part helping to transform their business loans into grants.

“I hope more special incentives to boost micro-businesses in the country are included in the comprehensive Economic Stimulus Package and People’s Aid to be announced on March 30 by the government.

“This was needed as SMEs are the backbone of the economy, accounting for more than 98 per cent of business establishments in the country.

“They (SMEs) will be facing immeasurable loss and will need help to keep surviving…saving them is a crucial step in saving the country’s economy,” he told Bernama.

The MCO is being implemented under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and the Police Act 1967 from March 18 to 31, 2020, as part of Malaysia’s efforts to contain the disease.

Gopinath said incentives like allocating a piece of land for SMEs in an area where there is geographical advantages for trade should be given by government besides lifting the ban imposed on foreign workers employed in the SME sector.

“Hundreds of Indian restaurants are affected due to shortage of foreign workers and it’s time for the government to lift the freeze imposed on hiring foreign workers,” he said.

Commenting on the supply chain of vegetables which might be disrupted due to the pandemic, Gopinath said the government should encourage more growers from the low-income families to cultivate vegetables in rural areas as the overall risks of the coronavirus spreading to rural areas is low. -Bernama