MTEM hopes business premise owners join hands in battling COVID-19

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malay Economic Action Council (MTEM) has expressed hope that private business premise owners step forward to help the government battle COVID-19.

It urged them to emulate the step taken by government-linked companies (GLCs) to waive the rental of their premises or offer rental discounts to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as underlined in the additional measures under the Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Package (PRIHATIN) unveiled on Monday.

MTEM chief executive officer Ahmad Yazid Othman said it was time for all parties to sacrifice in a concerted effort to contain the pandemic, instead of taking advantage of the situation.

He said the RM3,000 special grant for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that are registered with the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) was a welcome move as it would help many entrepreneurs who have lost their income for a month.

The abolishment of the 2.0 per cent interest rate under the Micro Credit Scheme amounting to RM500 million under Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) showed that the government is concern on the plight of the affected businesses, he said in a statement here today.

Ahmad Yazid said the success of the additional measures depend on their implementation and how the authorities channelled the assistance to the deserving recipients.

He said however, a number of groups may miss out on the assistance, especially those who were not eligible due to incomplete documentation or have not made subscriptions with the Social Security Organisation and register with the Companies Commission of Malaysia.

Ahmad Yazid said each bank sets different criteria for loan approvals, depending on the type of business runs and how long it has been in operations.

“In our opinion, banks still want to determine the applicants ability to pay back in deciding whether to approve the loans,” he said, citing the Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS), which needs an audited account, for example.

“The efficiency and speed of the banks and agencies involved in processing and releasing the funds will also be another factor. From our findings, many banks prioritise companies that are deemed good by them.

“The last in line will get whatever crumbs left over. How much and how fast can they give the loan will be critical,” he said.

MTEM is concern that if this factor is ignored, only certain groups will benefit from the assistance and most of MSMEs will be sidelined in the profit-seeking system — most of them will be Bumiputera businesses at all levels, as well as startups (of less than two years) regardless of race.

“This will further complicate the march towards the Share Prosperity Vision that the government aspires to achieve,” he said.

“I wish for the smooth functioning of the Economic Stimulus Implementation & Coordination Unit Between National Agencies (LAKSANA) and not as the proverb goes ‘yang dikejar tak dapat, yang dikendong berciciran’ (a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.

“Many relevant government agencies may need to be mobilised to help make PRIHATIN package a success,” he said, adding that MTEM would continue to provide feedback to the government to in tiding over COVID19.



Pix credit:  (Pic by Afif Abd Halim/TMR)