Provide help for SMEs in Budget 2023, say economics experts

Small, and medium enterprises continue to struggle on multiple fronts, with insufficient funding, increased cost of hiring workers, and a lack of training, being some of the major issues.

As such, two economics experts have called on the Malaysian government to introduce grants, low-interest loans, tax incentives, and access to training programmes as all eyes are on Budget 2023, which will be tabled on Oct 7.

“Comprehensive reforms in the economic and social sectors will be crucial in making Malaysia more competitive globally. This includes market liberalisation and education reforms to emphasise job-readiness of our youths,” said Associate Professor Dr Teo Wing Leong, University of Nottingham Malaysia’s (UNM) head of the school of economics.

He said there should be grants for education, and to make digital technology and digital economy an integral part of the curriculum at all levels. He added there could also be nationwide competitions with lucrative prizes to encourage digital innovations.

Teo added training or upskilling programmes should be made a condition for receiving cash assistance, especially for B40 communities. He said this would help them become self-reliant.

UNM Assistant Professor of Economics, Dr Saizi Xiao said strengthening the digital literacy of B40 communities would mean providing them with the knowledge and skills needed to start their own businesses online.

She also suggested supporting solar, and other environmentally-sustainable initiatives by businesses, such as through tax incentives for changing manufacturing practices, to reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Both Teo and Xiao anticipate that the Malaysian economy may face speedbumps in 2023, given the notable growth deceleration of major trading partners, fiscal consolidation in the country, and labour shortages, among others.

However, they remain optimistic that the country will be able to meet the annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth target of between 5.3 per cent and 6.3 per cent, given Malaysia’s strong growth in the first two quarters of this year. They also said several sectors, namely manufacturing, electrical and electronics, and green energy, are expected to experience rapid growth next year.

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