Hear us out, plead SME owners

More small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners are voicing concern that the lack of incentives by the government in helping them combat the impact of Covid-19 will result in a spike in unemployment rates.

This was the feedback on Twentytwo13′s article ‘Help SMEs battle Covid-19 impact‘ published yesterday.

The article highlights the realities faced by SMEs – from ridiculous 90- or 120-day payment policies by clients to the tale of a Melvin and how his ecosystem – comprising his staff, freelancers, interns, part-time maid and those who teach his children tuition and taekwondo – will be impacted with the loss of income.

Business owners also pointed out the Prihatin Economic Stimulus Package announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin last Friday seems to isolate them.

Malaysia has been in a semi-lockdown state since the Movement Control Order (MCO) kicked in on March 18. The order, initially supposed to end today, has been extended to April 14. Non-essential services have been ordered shut with many losing their income stream.

Here are some views from stakeholders and those who run their own businesses:

“That angle on Melvin is spot on.” – Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid, former economic advisor to ex-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

“This is an unprecedented situation. Most governments are implementing policies on trial basis. Then they start plastering the leaks. This is even happening in developed countries like the US and UK. Let’s look at how Singapore, South Korea and Japan handle such matters.” – K. Viji, Taiping

“I’ve not been having any income since March 18 as my job depends on walk-in clients. But I still need to pay for office rental, my daughter’s school fees and etc. Even if I am qualified to apply for the government’s hand out, it’s only RM1600. How long can I last on this?” – Julian Khor, Kuala Lumpur

“The government seems to have conveniently forgotten that the SMEs are the ones keeping the lights on behind the scenes to continue to provide for the workforce whilst business is shut, and salaries are continued to be paid. How many can sustain?” – Andy Wei, Subang Jaya

“If we have enough feedback and properly channel this to the relevant ministry, I’m sure we can think of policies and intervention to assist the SMEs.” – Hal Mahera, Putrajaya

“The SMEs are the backbone of our economy and nothing of immediate value has been extended to aid them. There should have some assistance extended to SMEs, esp restaurants and moms and pops etc.” – Nanda Kumar, Kuala Lumpur.

“My kolo mee guy asked me to help order kolo mee from him the day the Kopitiam he was operating at received the notice to close for MCO and all his ingredients for the day were wasted. He would not have business throughout the MCO. For them, there’s really no income when they stop operating. This vendor is just one of the many facing this issue. Also, many of them really don’t know how to get the incentives from the government.” – Stefani Wan, Kuala Lumpur

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