29/03/2020 05:05 PM

SEREMBAN, March 29 -- The Movement Control Order (MCO), imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 outbreak in the country has left many in the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a lurch as the nationwide order means they cannot operate their business as usual.

Facing with the directive to stop their business throughout the MCO period and mounting bills to pay including workers' salary as well as other overhead, SMEs are beginning to stare at the real possibility of going bust soon.

But the announcement of the RM250 billion Prihatin Rakyat Economic Stimulus Measures (PRIHATIN) by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Friday, has allayed concerns on the part of SMEs over their immediate future.

The widely-praised massive economic aid has lined up several measures to assist the affected SMEs, recognising the sector's importance as one of the major contributors to the nation's economy.    

A signage and printing services businessman Muhamad Zul Affendi Satiman, 36, said he needs to find RM13,000 to pay the salaries of his five workers, RM1,300 for shop rental and RM4,600 to service his MARA loan he took, despite his shop did not generate any business throughout the MCO period.

However, due to the PRIHATIN economic stimulus measure announced by Muhyiddin, Muhamad Zul Affendi will not lose any sleep anymore as he will enjoy a six-month moratorium on any loan repayments including MARA effective April 1, 2020.   

“Personally, the assistance announced by the Prime Minister is very helpful in times of crisis… .with this moratorium, the money I should repay for MARA loans, I can use it as capital and cover the loss of payroll when the company is not operating," he told Bernama here today.

Among the measures listed out by PRIHATIN to assist affected SMEs includes RM3 billion in Special Fund to help the sector, in addition to the moratorium of loan repayments with TEKUN, MARA, cooperatives and other government agencies effective April 1, 2020.

Meanwhile, a handphone and accessories entrepreneur Norhakimi Ishak, 35, said any savings made from the moratorium of MARA's loan repayments would be used to pay the salaries of his workers. 

"I need more than RM5,000 every month to repay my MARA loans and on top of that, I need RM25,000 to pay the salaries of 12 workers," he said.

Pendang-based bahulu and chips businesswoman Mahani Debeng, 55, described the PRIHATIN economic package as welcoming relief as she no longer has to worry about repaying her microfinance loan obtained from Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN).

"I am so grateful that the government did not forget us, the SMEs," said the businesswoman, adding that she generated between RM800 to RM1,000 in daily income before the imposition of the MCO by the government.

During PRIHATIN's announcement on Friday, Muhyiddin also said the government had allocated an additional RM500 million under the Micro Credit Scheme, bringing the total amount for easy financing to RM700 million.  


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