In a January survey titled “State of our SMEs” conducted by Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia (SAMENTA), 54 percent of SMEs reported substantially lower sales in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. Only 30 percent of SMEs have reported an increase in sales in 2020.
According to Datuk William Ng, chairman of policy and government relations of SAMENTA, this is actually better than expected, as some sectors such as medical equipment, electronics, logistics and e-commerce have benefitted from the pandemic.
“The pandemic and the resulting lockdowns have created havoc for most SMEs. Sectors such as tourism, construction, events and retail were the hardest hit, with some experiencing business reduction by more than 70 percent. However, there were also winners, especially those sectors that directly benefited from the lockdown as well as businesses that were able to pivot to other segments”, Ng said.
Among the initiatives introduced by the government, the SMEs found the wage subsidy programme to be the most helpful, with 70 percent benefitting from it. The various soft loans such as the Special Relief Fund were also critical in helping SMEs who were cash-strapped to tide through the lockdowns.
As a result of these aids, and nimble actions by some SMEs, only 10 percent of all SMEs retrenched their employees in 2020 and only 7 percent anticipate further retrenchment in 2021.
However, given the challenging economic climate and uncertainty over the vaccine roll-out globally, most SMEs (75 percent) rate business prospects in 2021 as either fair or bad. 61 percent of those surveyed expect a recovery only in the fourth quarter of 2021, while 28 percent expect a turnaround only in 2022.
“This pessimism, despite the vaccine roll-out and a promise by the Prime Minister that there will not be any blanket MCO moving forward, is the result of policy uncertainties. While we have good intentions when it comes to the various policies – be it for economic recovery or to safeguard the health of Malaysians, the roll-out are often seen as ill-prepared, with SOPs only announced days or weeks after major policies are announced”, Ng added.
“We hope the government will continue doing the good job of engaging with civil society before deciding on any policy. And more importantly, come to these engagement sessions with an open mind, rather than using these sessions as mere rubber stamps for their decisions”, Ng said.
NEW SAMENTA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
SAMENTA Central also introduced its new committee as follows:
|Chairman||Datuk William Ng|
|Deputy Chairman||Datin Lorela Chia|
|Vice Chairman||Suresh Gorasia|
|Committee Members||Dato’ Patrick Ong|
|Ong Peng Yeow|
|Victor Patrick Yeo|
“SAMENTA, as the country’s oldest SME association, will continue to be a voice for the SMEs, and will speak without fear or favour on issues that affect the SMEs. At the same time, we will continue to serve as a bridge for agencies to reach out to the SMEs and provide timely feedback on issues affecting our SMEs”, Ng said.