,Bank Negara can introduce a similar funding scheme that can cater to SMEs that have contracts or orders in hand, but need fresh working capital. “These funds can be guaranteed by CGC and also with the condition that part of the new business proceeds must be used to settle the existing NPL," says TK Teo. Khoo, an experience banker.
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ON the eve of Malaysia Day, I was delighted to share a few drinks and cigars with my two elderly sifus, Peter Khoo and TK Teo. Khoo, an accounting and tax practitioner and Teo, an experienced banker and corporate personality, have such great stories to tell with much wisdom imparted from their past experiences.
But our discussion turned sombre when I asked them how bad has this pandemic-driven recession affected Malaysian SMEs, as compared with other recessions since 1987.
Both say that the SMEs are facing the toughest challenges ever seen before.
Khoo reckons some 30% of Malaysian SMEs have closed down in the last 18 months. Teo feels that more SMEs will close down come January 2022 when the bank moratorium ends.
My hairstylist who used to have a saloon in Kota Damansara told me that more than half of the 40 over hair salons in his area have closed down in the last 18 months. Many shopping malls across the country have seen retail and F&B stores close. Not forgetting the closures of so many hotels and all tourism businesses. The list is endless. The damage is extensive.
The many lockdowns and strict SOPs have ruined many businesses. As the losses mounted, cash flow depleted super fast, defaults on bank loans reprieved by two moratoriums, savings are all used up and there is no light at the end of the tunnel for any recovery in business. Until now.
Luckily for Malaysia, our vaccination programme has been accelerated and in three weeks, 90% of our adult population would be fully vaccinated. The adult population is the working population. This has enabled the government to open up the economy gradually and come October, hopefully all sectors will be reopened and we hope that it includes allowing interstate travelling.
How can the government help the SMEs? I had asked Teo this question before we left for home.
The following day, Teo asked if I remembered about the Export Credit Refinancing (ECR) scheme which was introduced by the government after the 1987 major recession.
Of course I remembered. In the late 1980s, I was managing a rubber glove factory and had used the ECR facilities to the maximum. Upon receiving a purchase order (PO) from my customers, I could utilise up to 80% of the PO value to issue letters of credit to my latex supplier, order packaging materials and pay for the gas bills.
Upon completion of the order, the money received is first paid to the bank and the balance money is used to pay salaries. Manufacturers could borrow upfront based on a firm order so that production could proceed.