Tuesday, 14 April 2020

THE Penang government will ensure small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) recover and continue with their development post movement control order (MCO) period.

Under the ‘Penang Next National Strategies’, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said they would evaluate the situation and make preparations to restore the state’s economy.

He said 99% of the businesses in the state fall under the SMEs category, which has a total economic value of RM30bil.

“The SMEs are important drivers of the state economy as they provide 400,000 job employments here.

“We are focused in ensuring SMEs are back on their feet post MCO period, ” said Chow in his Covid-19 online Facebook message on Sunday.

Chow said Penang Institute, the state’s think tank, revealed that 46 types of SME businesses in four major sectors — agriculture, construction, manufacturing and services — were the most affected by the crisis.

He said the services sector had the most number of micro entrepreneurs, who were at the forefront of the crisis being exposed to the cessation of operation, decline in business, difficulties in obtaining credit and others, coupled with limited resources.

He added that other businesses which faced a very high economic risk were those involved in the vehicle and motorcycle repair business, wholesale of agriculture products and livestock, wholesale for food and beverage industry, grocery stores, petrol stations, transportation for tourism, residential services such as hotels, hostels, entertainment and recreational enterprises.

He said these businesses employed 180,000 people.

“The state government has also introduced the Penang Business Continuity Zero-Interest Loan for SMEs.

“We hope this scheme will assist SMEs in Penang to cope with the current economic challenges.

“I also hope more SMEs will move towards digitalisation because the number of SMEs in Penang incorporating digitalisation in their operations remains low at a mere 37.9%.”

Meanwhile, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) has instructed migrant workers to strictly comply with the MCO.

Chow said FMM members had told their workers to adopt public health measures such as social distancing while those involved in essential services must use face masks and hand sanitisers.

“To ensure everyone’s safety, enforcement officers from the two city councils regularly monitor the working condition to ensure they are MCO compliant, ” said Chow.

He said he had received feedback that employers were still paying the wages of their migrant workers although SMEs were facing financial burden.

“For the refugee community, the state has been cooperating with non-governmental organisations such as Persatuan Komuniti Berdikari, Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign, ASPIRE Penang, Malaysian Relief Agency, Doctors Without Borders, Penang Working Group and others.

“In fact, I approved an allocation for Persatuan Komuniti Berdikari to help the refugee community in our state, ” Chow added.

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