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PENJANA: SMEs welcome measures to ease their economic burden

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA) announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has been well received by Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) entrepreneurs who view it as the government's continued effort to ease their burden amid economic challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Syarrizuan Abdul Rashid, owner and founder of event management business Rashid Resources (Creative Service), said the government's move to facilitate policies that supported the growth of the gig economy and the welfare of its workers would drive the diversity of jobs via the informal sector.

"This is the new normal that is very relevant at present, especially during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period. In addition to reducing the rental and utility costs, the gig economy offers flexible working hours," he told Bernama.

PENJANA consists of 40 initiatives worth RM35 billion, of which RM10 million will be direct fiscal injection by the government.

For the gig economy, there is a matching grant of up to RM50 million for gig economy platforms that contribute for their gig workers towards the Social Security Organisation's employment injury scheme of up to RM162 and Employees Provident Fund's i-Saraan contribution of up to RM250 yearly.

The government also provides the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation with RM25 million for the Global Online Workforce (GLOW) training programme so Malaysians can earn income by serving international clients while working online from home.

Ameerul Izham Kamarul Hilal, owner of the Pak Mal restaurant in Shah Alam's Section 10, said the government's support for the gig economy would allow businesses to continue using the rapidly-expanding digital platforms and save operating costs.

"In terms of funding, it will help SMEs in terms of costs that need to be settled even when they are not operational, such as utility bills and worker salaries," he said.

Meanwhile, Al Hakim Education Centre kindergarten owner Fakhriah Ismail said the RM900 child-caring course incentive for each employee would help the operators to upgrade the quality of teachers' education in raising the centres' rating.

"The incentive really helps child care centre management as each child minder must take the PERMATA course certified by the Social Welfare Department," she said.

She also expressed gratitude for the government's move to extend the wage subsidy programme by a further three months given that there was no child care fee collected during the MCO and Conditional MCO.

"The extension will help to cover our teachers' salaries so no teacher has to take unpaid leave. This aid prevents kindergarten operators from going bankrupt," she said.