Business NGO: We need a second stimulus package

Business NGO: We need a second stimulus package

BANGSAR: A coalition of entrepreneurs are urging the government to prepare a second stimulus package that would be focused on assisting small and medium enterprises (SME), the self-employed and retrenched workers as the COVID-19 ravages the economy and public health.

With that in mind, the NGO is planning to meet Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin soon to discuss the matter and offer solutions.

Speaking at a press conference today, the COVID-19 Special Task Force Secretariat secretary and entrepreneur Shahul Hameed Dawood said that the RM3.5 billion, from the RM20 billion economic stimulus package announced earlier, was not sufficient to help SMEs to weather the current situation.

“What we need is a solid plan to help us financially so that we have more time to reorganise amidst this calamity to ensure the sustainability of the businesses,” he said, flanked by other business leaders.

With this in mind, Shahul said that his team has come up with a 10-point plan, which the government could consider to implement to assist local SMEs.

Among the ideas mooted by the NGO are:

-allowing SMEs six months deferment on loan repayments

-deferment on statutory payments for a minimum of six months

-providing waivers on utility bills, soft loans and sales and services tax

-incentives for businesses to embark on digital technology

-waiver of tourism and entertainment tax, with lower corporate tax rates

-postponement of Visit Malaysia Year 2020

Last month, interim Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had announced a RM20 billion economic stimulus plan to help industries affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

However, many have poured scorn on the stimulus package saying that too much focus was given on businesses involved in tourism.

Critics have pointed out that many other industries were also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic such as food and manufacturing.

With this in mind, newly-minted Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had tweaked some of the measures announced in the stimulus package, such as offering RM600 monthly allowance to workers forced to take unpaid leave and discounts on utility bills for homes and businesses.

On related matter, entrepreneur Datuk Mazlan, who was present at the press conference, said that many employers are in a dilemma on how to deal with their workers following a huge drop in their profits.

” We are in the dark on what to tell our employees. We are unable to answer them,” he said.

Mazlan added that many of them have urged their employees to work from home or take unpaid leave due to the crisis.

“The government should also be clear on their policies. For example, they announced that workers on unpaid leave will get RM600 allowance a month.

“But they did not mention who are the ones eligible for it and where to get the allowance from,” he said.

The COVID-19 Special Task Force Secretariat represents over 100 local business leaders and entrepreneurs

By Hema Subramaniam