SME Assistance More Coordinated Under SME Corp

KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 (Bernama) — Assistance for small
and medium enterprises (SMEs) will be more coordinated under the new
SME Corporation Malaysia (SME Corp), Deputy International Trade and
Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Tun Mahathir said on Friday.

“The issue we had to tackle before this was that there are 14
ministries and 16 government agencies directly and indirectly related
to SMEs,” Mukhriz said.

“Obviously, there is a need for better coordination,” he told
reporters after addressing the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2009 here.

“But we think things can be better if SME Corp looks into all the
various aspects and functions executed by these different parties so
that we can minimise or avoid any overlapping,” he said.

As SME Corp will be the secretariat for the National SME
Development Council, to be chaired by Prime Minister, “we can again
better coordinate with various ministries and agencies”, he added.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday announced the
rebranding of the Small and Medium Industries Development Corporation
(Smidec) to SME Corp, with the aim of developing a competitive and
resilient SME sector to overcome the economic crisis.

SME Corp, which is expected to begin operations next month, will
act, among others, as an information and one-stop referral centre,
coordinate data and programmes, and undertake research pertaining to

It will report to the council and be placed under the International Trade and Industry Ministry.

Earlier in his address, Mukhriz said as at May 2009, from 384
applications received, a total of 276 applications had been approved,
amounting of RM16.47 million, under the matching grants for the
development and promotion of halal products.

In the same period, from 1,371 applications received, 750
applications had been approved, amounting to RM428.29 million, under
the soft loans for SMEs, he said.

For the soft loans for information and communications technology
(ICT) adoption, Mukhriz said that from 101 applications received, 26
applications had been approved, totalling RM50.01 million, as at May
this year.

On the small number of approvals compared to applications received, the deputy minister said: “We are little shorthanded.”

“Our promotion has been overly successful. At one particular time,
we had 20 officers working on 20,000 applications, so obviously there’s
a bottleneck,” he said.

The agency has been hiring staff to look into reducing the
backlog, Mukhriz said, adding that the backlog “in the thousands and
growing on a daily basis”.

“We expect within the next three months the backlog will be
cleared and from then on we will be able to get back on track with our
KPIs (key performance indicators) in terms of the time spend on
processing this applications,” he said.

Asked whether the backlog will affect promotions, Mukhriz said:
“We do a lot of promotions and roadshows, and these have to continue.
We can’t stop as these have been somewhat successful and of course, due
to that, we create this backlog.”

An estimated 567,480 SMEs are operating in the country and their
contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to rise to
37 percent in 2010 from 32 percent in 2005.