SMEs complain of late receipt of loans under economic stimulus packages

Violet Yong

KUCHING, May 27: Many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Sarawak were greatly disappointed that the loan amount approved by banks under the federal and state governments’ economic stimulus package have yet to be made available to them until today.

Highlighting this, Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong disclosed that she had received feedback from SMEs which have applied for either one or both interest free loan schemes rolled out by the federal and state governments.

“The loan sums are still not made available to them until to date despite approvals had been granted from banks and letters of offer were signed.

“In view that most of the SMEs did not benefit from these interest-free loan schemes and thus feeling helpless over the matter because they could not get any answers or replies from the banks, it cannot stop the SMEs from questioning whether all these interest free loans announced by the government are for real or just for empty talk only,” she complained in a statement today.

She noted that during the Movement Control Order (MCO), both the federal and state governments have announced and introduced a few types of free interest loan assistance packages targeted to help the SMEs which have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The federal government rolled out the zero per cent Micro/i Kredit Prihatin with a maximum borrowing of RM75,000 under Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) while state government under Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) offered interest-free soft loan scheme ranging from RM20,000 to RM500,000.

Yong pointed out that there were close to 40 per cent of the SMEs which were unable to sustain more than two months of lost of income and hence, hoping that the governments could address their need immediately.

“These SMEs are not asking for free aid from the government but borrowings of fund to get them through during this difficult period,” she said.

Given the uncertainties of the whole matter and most SMEs were in desperate need for the loan to cushion the financial impact of Covid-19, she said it was pertinent that the governments be truthful and transparent about this matter.

“Are these loans still available for those who have signed the letter of offer? When can the loan amount be disbursed to the SMEs? What cause the delay in disbursing the loan to the respective SMEs who had successfully applied for the loan? Are these free Interest loan schemes still available and open for application?” she asked.

Yong also demanded answers for the number of applications received, approved and rejected by the respective banks as well as the total loan sum granted to SMEs to date.

To sustain and maintain businesses and workforce, Yong emphasised that it was crucial for the governments to waste no time in playing politics by taking advantage over Covid-19 pandemic.

“Instead, they must ensure whatever measures that had been promised and announced to help the SMEs, which form two-thirds of workforce in the country and contribute almost 40 per cent to the GDP, are being materialised and implemented.

“Based on records, Sarawak has 40,000 SMEs and make up over 75 per cent of the state’s business sector,” she said.

In the meantime, Yong hoped that the Bank Negara Malaysia could also come out with a full explanation whether funds are available to offer all these so called ‘interest-free loans’ to help the SMEs as many of the SMEs have been informed by the offering banks that there were no fund forthcoming from Bank Negara to implement all these interest free loan schemes.—DayakDaily