Association chief suggests measures for new fed govt to help S’wak SMEs remain resilient


Jordan Ong

KUCHING (Oct 20): The new federal government to be formed after the 15th General Election must ensure small and medium enterprises (SMEs) remain resilient in the endemic phase of Covid-19, said SME Association of Sarawak president Jordan Ong.

Ong said SMEs are the lifeblood of the country’s economy, contributing about 43 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 52 per cent of national employment.

“For most, the return to business normalcy very much depends on government policy interventions, mainly to tackle short-term challenges, support short-term liquidity and availability of funding,” Ong pointed out when contacted.

Ong said it was pertinent for the federal government to provide the right conditions and incentives for innovative businesses and potential entrepreneurs to thrive.

The association chairman hoped the federal government will also offer deferment or reduction in monthly loan instalments for low-income individuals and microenterprises.

Targeted financial support, including tax relief, wage subsidies, reduction of foreign worker levy, moratorium on loans and easy financing scheme, should also be reintroduced, he added.

“In addition, the new government has to provide structural support measures for digitalisation, innovation and reskilling to enhance SMEs’ resilience and recovery.”

Moreover, Ong said the new federal government needs to ensure sufficient liquidity in the financial system and carry out intervention measures in encouraging financial institutions to continue to support SMEs in this challenging business environment.

He further stressed the government should offer grants to facilitate businesses to move their operations to e-commerce platforms by equipping the workforce with digital skills so that business sustainability can be safeguarded.

Besides, Ong said the government can support SMEs through their purchasing policies to increase stability of demand in the market and improving the businesses’ cash flow.