Former finance minister says wage subsidies helped SMEs stay afloat during Covid-19

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 — Former finance minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said wage subsidies helped micro, small and medium-scale businesses keep afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic as they were faced with cashflow issues.

He said cashflow was among the main problems faced by companies struggling to stay afloat during the height of the pandemic, The Star reported.

“Many companies, especially SMEs (small and medium enterprises), were unable to pay wages.

“We disbursed RM21 billion for the wage subsidy programme and this saved 3,800 companies,” he was quoted as saying.

Tengku Zafrul, who is the current international trade and industry minister, was speaking at the launch of the Bahasa Malaysia version of his book Weathering the Economic Storm: A Journey Through the Unchartered Waters of Covid-19 (Mengharungi Badai Ekonomi: Mengemudi Bahtera Menelurusi Gelombang Covid-19) at The International Gallery in KLGCC yesterday.

He pointed out that it took about three months to complete the translation.

“We wanted this book to be as general as possible so that it would be an easy read,” he added.

Tengku Zafrul also said that more projects were in the pipeline on the recently announced investments into Malaysia from Tesla and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“We are expecting more, and we hope we can continue the momentum. We know that 2023 will be a challenging year, looking at the global economic outlook.

“However, when you look at investments, they are long-term in nature, so we need to continue to focus on getting the right types for Malaysia.

“I am optimistic that we have the right package and will be able to continue to attract investors to Malaysia,” he said.

Tengku Zafrul said such investments must also benefit workers here, adding that the target was to increase household incomes.

“We have been in the middle-income trap for quite a while and one of the ways to help this is for domestic and foreign investments to increase productivity so that workers’ incomes can also increase,” he said.