Guan Eng: SMEs need bank loan moratorium, interest rate waivers to ensure survival

·2-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — DAP’s national chairman Lim Guan Eng today urged the government to allow another round of moratorium to be given to struggling small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

He said this will help local businesses against the depreciating ringgit and the recent Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) hike by Bank Negara.

"The ringgit went lower against the US dollar yesterday at RM4.51 which puts a lot of pressure on the cost of imported inputs and materials for many businesses, especially SMEs, but our prime minister seems more concerned about the date of the general election,” said Lim in a statement this morning.

The Bagan MP said a new moratorium is only possible if the government inks a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Opposition or allow the Parliament to run for a full term.

"Early this year, I suggested a bank loan moratorium and waiver of interest for a period of six months for both the poorest individual borrowers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to assist their revival under the post-Covid-19 pandemic recovery.

"Whilst there is growing support for the bank loan moratorium for SMEs now, a bank loan moratorium will only happen if there is another similar Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) 2.0 between Pakatan Harapan (PH) and the government or if the general elections are held next year instead of this year,” he added.

Lim said a bank loan moratorium is ultimately a political will and not a private banking consideration, which is what happened after the first MoU was signed.

He added that PH will provide all necessary support if a bank loan moratorium or an interest waiver is implemented.

"The government may be overly optimistic that the robust economic growth trajectory this year will overcome all the underlying economic issues.

"However, such growth is uneven following a host of new challenges such as soaring food prices and rising costs associated with global inflation caused by the Ukraine war and other issues.

"For this reason, SMEs require financial assistance from the government, including a bank loan moratorium and interest rate waivers, to ensure their business survival,” said the ex-Minister of Finance.

Last week, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) increased the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) by 25 basis points to 2.50 per cent at its fifth Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting.