SMEs need more assistances

With additional government assistance, SMEs would have room to recover and at the same time lowering the unemployment rate in the country, where B40 would be benefited.

53 0
53 0
English

Published by Business Today, Sin Chew, The Sun Daily & Malaysia-China Insight, image from Business Today.

Despite the government having component of the Prihatin and Penjana stimulus packages specifically tailored for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the Small and Medium Enterprises Association indicates that 300,000 to 400,000 SMEs might close shop if they fail to cope with operating costs.

To further reduce the financial burden among SMEs, another three-month extension of the loan moratorium and wage subsidy programme which will expire at the end of this month should be considered by the government.

According to Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, more than 21,000 SMEs throughout Malaysia had received funds from the Special Relief Facility (SRF) Fund which helped maintained over 400,000 jobs.

SMEs are the backbone of Malaysia’s economy. Not only do SMEs contribute around 40 percent of Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and two-thirds of the total workforce, but they also have the potential to develop new products and services and generate employment opportunities.

Based on the definition that was formulated and endorsed at the 14th National SME Development Council (NSDC) meeting in July 2013, SMEs under the manufacturing sector are firms with sales turnover not exceeding RM50 million or employment not exceeding 200 workers.

On the other hand, SMEs under the services and other sectors are firms with sales turnover not exceeding RM20 million or employment not exceeding 75 workers. 

However, due to the emergence of Covid-19 pandemic, SMEs are struggling to sustain their business operations, which in turn have affected the B40 group who is struggling to make ends meet due to sudden loss of jobs and income.

After only six weeks of the Movement Control Order (MCO), SMEs incurred an estimated RM14.31 billion losses in operating costs which include rental, overhead, insurance, advertising and promotional as well as repair and maintenance.

Due to cash flow problems, there are over 4,000 SMEs that had to shut down since April. Some of the SMEs have had to retrench workers so as to sustain their business operations.

However, the worst is yet to come.

Up till July 31, a total of RM23.3 billion loan moratorium has been utilised by businesses and a total of RM8.99 billion in wage subsidies has benefited over 2.6 million employees, but these are still insufficient.

The overall unemployment rate in Malaysia has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels of around 3 to 3.5 percent. If the government provides additional financial assistance, SMEs can hire more staff, with the priority on hiring B40 who lost jobs during the MCO.

Since more financial allocation is needed to train new hires with no working experience, SMEs, in general, are not motivated to take on fresh graduates under the current climate.

However, with the Penjana stimulus initiatives such as Dana PENJANA Nasional, Penjana SME Financing, Penjana Microfinancing and Bumiputera Relief Financing, among others, the government would able to encourage the SMEs to re-prioritise their focus by hiring fresh graduates.

While the government did provide rent exemptions and tax deductions, SMEs that rented at private premises did not receive such benefits. Klang MP Charles Santiago suggested the government should consider providing special grants for SMEs that experienced a year-on-year drop in revenue of 30% in which 70% of the rental, capped at RM8,500 based on the average rental rates of offices in Kuala Lumpur, is subsidised until next March.

SMEs should also go digital and take advantage of the financial assistances provided by the government for the SMEs to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies. Indeed, the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is providing a 50% matching grant of up to RM5,000 per company for subscription to and upgrading of business solutions software, which is worth RM500 million over five years. This provides the opportunity for the SMEs to upgrade their existing systems and it’s expected that 100,000 SMEs in Malaysia would benefit from the scheme.

To encourage usage of digital wallets among customers, SMEs also can provide value-added services such as free product delivery and product discount, further boosting their sales.

With additional financial assistance from the government, SMEs would have room to recover, for them to ride out the economic storm. At the same time, SMEs could help to lower the unemployment rate in the country, which would also benefit the B40.

Amanda Yeo is Research Analyst at EMIR Research, an independent think tank focused on strategic policy recommendations based on rigorous research.

中文

刊登在:马中透视 (Malaysia-China Insight).

尽管政府为中小型企业提供经济刺激配套如国家关怀援助金(Prihatin)和国家经济复苏计划(Penjana),但马来西亚中小型企业商会指出,如果30至40万家中小型企业无法支付运营成本,他们可能会倒闭。

为了进一步减轻中小型企业的财务负担,政府应考虑延迟偿还贷款和延长工资补贴计划多三个月。这两项计划将于本月底到期。

根据财政部长拿督斯里东姑赛夫鲁的声明,全马超过21万家中小型企业从特别救助金(Special Relief Facility, SRF)获益。该基金至今协助中小型企业维持超过40万个工作岗位。

中小型企业是马来西亚的主要经济支柱。中小型企业不仅贡献了约40%的国内生产总值(GDP)和三分之二的劳动力,而且具有开发新产品及创造就业机会的潜力。

根据2013年7月第14届全国中小型企业发展理事会(National SME Development Council, NSDC)会议中所制定并认可的定义,拥有不超过5千万令吉的营业额或不超过200名全日制员工的制造业可纳入为中小型企业。

另一方面,服务业和其他行业的中小型企业拥有不超过2千万令吉的营业额或不超过75名全日制员工。

但由于新冠肺炎(Covid-19)的爆发,中小型企业只好减少开支以维持业务经营。低收入群体(B40)的生计顿时因失去工作和收入而受中断。 

行动管制令(MCO)仅执行六个星期后,中小型企业蒙受大约143.1亿令吉的运营成本亏损,包括租金、间接开销、保险费、广告费、促销费以及维修费。

由于资金短缺的问题,自4月以来,有4千多家中小型企业被迫关闭。一些中小型企业不得不裁员,以维持业务经营。

然而,最坏的时刻还没有到来。 

截至7月31日,企业动用了总共233亿令吉的延迟偿还贷款。此外,260万名员工受惠于总计89亿9000万令吉的工资补贴,但这仍然不足。

马来西亚的总体失业率尚未回到疫情前的水平,约为3%至3.5%。如果政府提供额外的资金援助,中小型企业可以雇用更多员工,并优先雇用在MCO期间失业的B40群体。

由于需要更多拨款培训资历尚浅的新员工,中小型企业通常没有意愿聘请应届毕业生,尤其是在眼下经济如此不景气的时候。

但是,借助Penjana经济复苏计划,例如PENJANA国家资金、Penjana中小型企业融资、Penjana小额融资和土著救济融资等,政府将能鼓励中小型企业重新定位,并雇用应届毕业生。

尽管政府提供免税和减税措施,但租用私人场所的中小型企业却没有从中受益。巴生国会议员查尔斯圣地亚哥建议政府应考虑向收入同比下降30%的中小型企业提供特别补助至明年三月,其中70%的租金根据吉隆坡办公室平均租金而定,上限为8,500令吉。

在科技发达的时代,中小型企业应走向数字化,并且利用政府所提供的经济援助采用工业4.0技术。马来西亚数字经济发展局(Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation, MDEC)目前提供了50%的对等补助金,让每家公司享有高达5,000令吉的资金 (五年总值5亿令吉),以订阅和升级商业解决方案软件。这让中小型企业得以进行系统升级,预计将有10万家中小型企业从该计划中获益。

为了鼓励客户使用数字钱包,中小型企业还应该提供免费产品派递服务和产品折扣等增值服务,从而促进销售额。

在政府的额外资助下,中小型企业将能度过经济风暴,并且有机会复苏。同时,中小型企业可以降低失业率,让B40群体受益。

杨颜殷是EMIR Research的研究分析员, EMIR Research是一个独立的智囊团,专注于根据严格的研究提出战略政策建议。

In this article