KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 — The Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia (Samenta) is calling on the government to prioritise the survival of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and take immediate steps to ensure this.
Chairman Datuk William Ng said the SME sector is currently facing rising cost, labour challenges and an unstable environment that would make it difficult to return to pre-pandemic levels without government intervention.
“Recent policy announcements by the government have ignored not only the 5.6 per cent negative growth in 2020 but also the compounding effect of that contraction to our economy.
“In order to catch-up on this compounded loss in the next five years based on the average of 4.88 per cent GDP growth over the 5 years preceding the pandemic, we will need an average GDP growth of at least 7.5 per cent over the next 5 years.
“That’s a tall, if not impossible, order,” he said in the statement.
Ng said that while the SME industry was thankful for the help already provided for by the government, firmer policy interventions are needed to help SMEs fully recover to its pre-pandemic levels of productivity.
He then suggested several ideas that the government can implement now to start the process of rescuing SMEs from sinking below the tide, including halting the increment in electricity bills, allowing the market to dictate wages and speeding up the transition to market-led financing.
He added that Samenta supports the National Recovery Council’s (NRC) suggestion to reopen the borders on March 1, as free movement is needed for trade-based recovery to improve.
“The vaccinated travel lane (VTL) should also be sped up to more markets, and with capacity increased significantly.
“Without free movement, our hope for a trade-based recovery will remain subdued, especially since our SMEs are competing with regional competitors in the global supply chains,” he said.
Ng said that declaring the Covid-19 pandemic as endemic would also be a step towards SMEs recovery, as it would allow Malaysians and Malaysian businesses to resume some semblance of normalcy.
“Consumer confidence remains highly subdued, and the only way forward for a quick economic recovery is for Malaysians to accept that the virus is here to stay, and to continue practising safety and hygiene measures in daily lives,” he said.