KUCHING, April 10 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today said that over 40,00 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Sarawak will be entitled to an interest-free loan to ease their financial burden during the movement control order (MCO).
He said that the state government has agreed to absorb the interest costs of about RM80.7 million on the loans to be obtained by SMEs over the next three years and six months.
He said the state government will collaborate with Maybank, Hong Leong Bank and RHB Bank, under the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Special Relief Fund (SRF).
“The interest-free loans of RM1 billion will be made available for our SMEs,” the chief minister told reporters after he announced the second package of Sarawakku Sayang Assistance targeting SMEs and petty traders.
“The SMEs need to apply for the loans directly from any branches of either Maybank, Hong Leong Bank or RHB Bank, and all SMEs have an option to apply for either Islamic or conventional loans for the scheme,” he said.
The chief minister also said a special grant of RM1,500 per entrepreneur will be provided to each hawker and petty traders registered with local authorities.
“This will benefit more than 65,000 petty traders and hawkers throughout Sarawak,” he said, adding that the grant will be paid out to the respective qualified entrepreneurs’ through state-owned e-wallet platform Sarawak Pay account in two tranches.
He added the overall cost of the grants to be borne by state government is RM98.4 million.
Abang Johari said for hawkers and petty traders who are eligible to receive assistance but have no Sarawak Pay account, they will be given vouchers which they can apply through the Resident’s Offices of the 12 Divisions of Sarawak.
The chief minister said the state government has agreed to abolish a 2 per cent interest rate for the next three years and six months under the Sarawak Micro Credit Scheme of state Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development.
He said micro-enterprises can apply for the scheme from Agro Bank Berhad and Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) with a maximum loan size of RM50,000.
Abang Johari said the state government will waive rentals for SMEs in the retail sector operating in premises owned by state-linked companies for six months until September this year.
“On the same principle of burden sharing, I would also like to encourage owners of private premises throughout Sarawak to provide similar assistance to their tenants by reducing their rental rates considering that the government has given them 25 per cent discounts on their assessments rates as well as 15 per cent utility bills discounts on these commercial premises, under the first special aid package,” he said.
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