SME Bank has allocated up to RM2.1 billion in financial aid for its SME customers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, to be offered through the SME Go scheme and the SME Technology Transformation Fund (STTF). Both initiatives were introduced under the PENJANA economic recovery plan.
Of the total, RM1.6 billion will be earmarked for the SME Go scheme, which is intended to help finance the pre-implementation stage of construction or supply/maintenance contracts awarded by the federal or state government and agencies. The financial aid is targeted at G2 and G3 contractors, referring to SMEs that are allowed to tender for government projects valued at less than RM500,000 and RM1,000,000, respectively.
“Under the scheme, the financing limit offered is up to 100% of the contract cost,” said the group president and chief executive officer of SME Bank, Aria Putera Ismail.
Meanwhile, RM500 million will be allocated for the STTF to help entrepreneurs in the services and manufacturing sector begin their digitalisation journey. They can tap into the STTF to purchase equipment, machinery, computer hardware, and other varieties of assets to enhance their productivity and efficiency, as well as help them penetrate new markets.
“The asset to be financed under STTF shall be the collateral for the financing. The bank can obtain the guarantee schemes from Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd or Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan,” said Aria Putera. He also clarified that applicants can apply up to 80% of the acquisition cost (maximum RM3 million), and that the fund will be disbursed directly to the supplier or vendor when SME Bank receives verification of purchase invoices.
Aria Putera further added that the digital transformation programme that SME Bank undertook back in 2019 has put the bank in a good place to assist the government in executing key initiatives during this crucial period. The transformation programme, which took place over two years, saw SME Bank setting new directions and projects to improve its services for the digital economy.
Separately, Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar commented that SME Bank’s allocation of funds is expected to rejuvenate economic activities in the construction sector. Additionally, it will also encourage SMEs to adopt technology as the country embarks on the Fourth Industry Revolution (IR 4.0) to face the new normal.