The government will improve existing aid packages given to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to help them face the negative effects brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, the improved aid will be announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin next week.
“We will wait for the Prime Minister’s announcement on what are the issues we can resolve and fulfill for the benefit of SMEs. This is because we cannot deny their contributions to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP),” said Wan Junaidi. He added that the development will be announced after discussions at ministry level are brought to the Economic Action Council (EAC).
Wan Junaidi was responding to the many reactions from SME owners who have voiced their dissatisfaction over the assistance extended in the government’s Prihatin Economic Stimulus package announced last week. Among the feedback from the SMEs was that the initiatives in the package focused more on loans and credit, which are not of much help to SMEs in the current climate.
“The government has always realised the importance of assisting the SMEs,” assured Wan Junaidi. “But we need to first prioritise the effort to flatten the pandemic curve. We do not want to be like Italy. The economy may prosper as much as it wants, but this would mean nothing if there are countless deaths here and there.”
All the same, Wan Junaidi revealed that the prime minister has ordered for the establishment of a Cabinet committee that will study how to create a balance in resolving both economic and pandemic issues. Meanwhile, the Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Ministry has instructions to conduct studies on affected industries for them to be regenerated to ensure that there is no further slide in the national economy.