KUALA LUMPUR – Improved terms in the wage subsidy program or PSU 4.0 will save more jobs including those in the M40 group as well as businesses under the National People’s Well-Being and Economic Recovery Package (PEMULIH).
The programme would definitely lessen the burden of small and medium enterprises (SME) in areas such as operational overheads when there is low or no business transactions during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Amy Seok, the Chief Executive Officer of Money Compass Media (M) Sdn Bhd, said today (July 4).
“Letting go of talents will be the last thing a business would do if given a choice,” she told Bernama in response to the government’s RM150 billion PEMULIH package announced recently.
Nevertheless, she called for efficient and consistent communication between the community, business and government in dealing with the current business downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They should join hands to come up with creative and innovative solutions and set a better direction towards economic recovery, a task that should not just be left to the ministries or government, she said.
As for the moratorium, Seok said all banks and financial institutions in Malaysia should prove their corporate social responsibility to waive off the six months’ interest and not just the compounding interest.
If the interest is charged for the six months then it means that all SMEs businesses are operating but in reality, many companies including manufacturing and retail firms were badly affected and have ceased operations.
It would be very difficult for them to pay interest when they are not even operating, which is why they shouldn’t be charged compounded interest and that the interest should be waived.
She said it would be fair if bankers charge interest for loans on companies which are still operating and doing well like glove manufacturers.
In difficult times like this, she said bankers and financial institutions should have empathy for SMEs as both parties were friends and partners in growing the economy.
The government could go further to perhaps make the moratorium with all these waivers a policy directive and show its compassion for SMEs.
Elaborating on the extension of PSU 4.0 which applied to all sectors and employees with salary more than RM 4,000, she said it was a wise decision as this would indirectly keep jobs of many M40.
Seok lauded what was surely an improved version of PSU 4.0, saying it would support up to 500 employees for each employer, at a rate of RM600 for each worker for four months — with two months under the second phase outlined in the Economic Recovery and People’s Protection Package (PPN) and a further two months for those categorised in the negative list in the third phase of the PPN.
“The wage subsidy programme is one of the most practical programmes to save jobs and businesses,” she said.
This showed that the government does listen to the people and the industry as it addresses key concerns and challenges on the ground including for small and medium industries in dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Under the new stimulus package, the government will be providing additional assistance under the Prihatin Special Grant (GKP) 4.0 programme and this will certainly help in reducing costs borne by SME employers,” said Seok.
Turning to digitalisation initiatives under PEMULIH, she said it could certainly be achieved with the newly-introduced Small Entrepreneur Digital Empowerment Programme (PUPUK), whereby the government would be allocating RM200 million to assist micro SMEs and RM100 million for SMEs.
Given that one of the areas these allocations would go to include the Shop Malaysia Online and GoeCommerce Onboarding initiatives, she said this would surely help a lot of entrepreneurs especially those in the gig economy and informal sectors.
Nevertheless, in order to help support local entrepreneurs, she recommended that these initiatives be limited to offerings of Malaysian products and Malaysian market places.
The PEMULIH package should also be commended on its inclusivity efforts, she said.
This is because to help the disabled who are unemployed, the government would be giving them RM500 per month for three months and this is estimated to benefit over 2,000 individuals while RM20 million was allocated to help the disabled and the homeless to start their own business by covering capital requirements and business assistance.
She also highlighted that the implementation of the deferment of company income tax instalment would surely ease the cash flow of many SMEs.
According to SME Corporation Malaysia, 73% of businesses would be making losses. Therefore, for these businesses to have to pay tax instalments in advance of their potential profit would not be sensible, she said.
“This is why the deferment of company tax instalments will greatly aid SMEs in staying afloat during these trying times,” she said.
Seok also urged businesses to fully utilise other applicable benefits in PEMULIH such as the two-month exemption on Human Resource Development Corp levies for employers that could operate during the MCO, the extension of the 10 per cent discount on electricity bills for those operating in affected economic sectors and the RM2 billion allocation by Bank Negara Malaysia to help SMEs and micro entrepreneurs.
Read more: PM unveils RM150 billion PEMULIH aid package