MCO Jitters for Businesses Concerns SME Association

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 8): The SME Association of Malaysia is concerned that another round of Movement Control Order (MCO) might lead to the closure of more local businesses and increased unemployment in the country.

Its vice president Chin Chee Seong said in a statement that another round of MCO would “just kill more businesses which are currently just grappling with staying afloat”.

Earlier yesterday, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) also issued a similar statement requesting for business and economic activities to be allowed to operate though under stricter standard operating procedures (SOP). FMM president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai reportedly supported a targeted conditional MCO but not a complete nationwide lockdown similar to that implemented in March 2020.

“Although we appreciate the need to strike that delicate balance between saving lives and livelihoods, a second round of total lockdown would be disastrous for SMEs which would then be forced to lay-off employees,” said Mr Chin, who is also the Malaysia Cross-Border e-Commerce Association national president.

Mr Chin also urged for faster application processing of grants and incentives for local SMEs. “The reality today is that SMEs continue to suffer significant economic losses as a result of pandemic-induced restrictions and hindrances,” he said. Mr Chin stated that the association has identified numerous measures that the Government could undertake to accelerate the recovery for businesses, as well as the economy as a whole from the adverse impact caused by the pandemic.

Among the Government’s grants and incentives, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and BSN jointly-managed SME Digitalisation Grant and the Penjana Smart Automation Grant are both widely held to be the most favourable forms of financial assistance for SMEs.

“However, the grant application process is paved with its own set of challenges. Many applicants have experienced long processing times, taking months in some cases, before their applications were matched and approved,” stressed Chin.

Mr Chin also suggested for more entrepreneurship and digital training programmes to be introduced and implemented, especially for Malaysian youths and that the Government should consider furnishing businesses with more employee-centric incentives and financial packages to hire more fresh graduates.

“The SME Association hopes that with all the necessary financial incentives in place and acceleration in the handling and processing of applications by the relevant government agencies, the economy would begin showing signs of recovery by the second quarter of 2021,” Chin concluded.