KUCHING: Sarawak Business Federation (SBF) is appealing to the Sarawak government to allow all banks to offer the interest-free loans for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) rather than just three designated banks.
SBF secretary-general Jonathan Chai said some SMEs had already applied for loans under Bank Negara Malaysia’s Special Relief Fund (SRF) from other commercial banks.
The three banks designated by the state government to offer interest-free loans for SMEs under the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) 2.0 package are Maybank, Hong Leong Bank and RHB Bank.
“I would like to appeal to the Sarawak government to extend the interest-free soft loan package for SMEs to those applicants who have applied their loans under the SRF from other banks, instead of confining it to only three designated banks.
“Under BKSS 2.0, in order to enjoy the interest rate subsidy over the prescribed three-and-a-half-year period, SMEs need to apply for the loans directly from any branch of either Maybank, Hong Leong Bank or RHB Bank. And all SMEs have an option to apply for either Islamic or conventional loans for the scheme.
“Some SMEs have already obtained their approval of the SRF loans from other banks prior to the announcement of the BKSS 2.0 by the Chief Minister last week,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
Chai said based on experience, SMEs would normally apply for the facilities through their preferred banks out of convenience.
“This is because their bankers have their records and documents and most importantly, the trust and business relationship established with their bankers over time.
“Accordingly, it would be grossly unfair and unreasonable to exclude those SMEs from benefitting from the aid package just because they have obtained their SRF loans from other banks rather than from those three designated banks,” he added.
For practical reasons, he said it would be best for the Sarawak government to include all commercial banks such as Public Bank and CIMB Bank, which had made available the SRF loans or facilities to SMEs registered in Sarawak.
“This is so that the aid package would comprehensively benefit all SMEs. After all, the intention of our government to come up with BKSS 2.0 is to provide the necessary assistance to SMEs, micro-enterprises and petty traders to overcome challenges and to sustain their businesses due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Chai.