RM1 bln BKSS 2.0 special relief fund looks to help SMEs during Covid-19

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg (4th right) and Awang Tengah (3rd left) witnessing the MOU between Sarawak government and banks on the RM1 billion BKSS 2.0 SMEs-Special Relief Fund.

KUCHING, May 20: Additional measures have been introduced specifically to help SMEs to weather this period of economic uncertainty, including interest-free soft loans and waiver of rental for SMEs in the retail sector on premises owned by state GLCs under a RM1 billion BKSS 2.0 SMEs-Special Relief Fund (SRF) today.

Speaking at an MOA ceremony between the state government and banks participating in the relief fund today, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the financial implication for interest free subsidy for Small, Medium Enterprises (SME) over the three and a half years period is expected to be RM80.7 million, which will be absorbed by the Sarawak government.

He added that these were in addition to other measures eligible to both individuals and businesses such as loan and land premium payment deferment; and discounts on utility bills, annual assessment rate and land rent announced in BKSS 1.0

“Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government recognises that SMEs are the key drivers and the backbone to our economy, providing jobs and business opportunities to Sarawakian. SMEs make up over 98.5 per cent of our business sector, contribute 20 per cent to Sarawak GDP and provide about 600,000 jobs for Sarawakians. Based on records, there are over 40,000 SMEs operating in Sarawak.

“Three commercial banks – Maybank, Hong Leong Bank and RHB Bank – participated in this scheme. Based on the feedback received from the business community, they requested the expansion of interest-free soft loans facility for SMEs – SRF to more banks.

“Four more commercial banks CIMB Bank, Public Bank, Bank Muamalat and SME Bank have agreed to participate, bringing the total number of participants to seven,” Awang Tengah said.

Through this scheme coordinated by Ministry of International Trade & Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development (MINTRED) Sarawak in collaboration with these participating banks under the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Special Relief Fund (SRF), he added that the interest-free loans, totalling up to RM1.0 billion were made available for eligible Sarawakian SMEs.

In order to qualify for the scheme, registered Sarawak companies need to comply with National SME Development Council (NSDC)’s SME definition and the following easy financing conditions such as working capital in respect to salary payment; interest-free loan amount from RM20,000 to RM500,000; no collateral required; sole proprietorship, partnership and Sdn Bhd; and business in operations for three years and more.

Eligible SMEs can apply for the loans directly from any branches of either Maybank Bank, Hong Leong Bank, RHB Bank, CIMB Bank, Public Bank, Muamalat Bank and SME Bank.

All SMEs have an option to apply for either Islamic or conventional loans for the scheme.

“We hope this scheme can provide the much-needed relief to the SMEs during this difficult time, to sustain the businesses during this downturn, and to provide resiliency for the businesses to bounce back when the economy recovers in the coming years,” Awang Tengah said.

The Sarawak government had announced Bantuan Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) packages in three phases this year; BKSS 1.0 on March 23, BKSS 2.0 on April 10, and BKSS 3.0 on May 8.

These aid packages, worth RM2.25 billion, were introduced to help cushion the impact of Covid-19, and included measures covering both individual and businesses. —DayakDaily