KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 — The government will be setting aside RM180 million in the form of various loans for the betterment of local Indian entrepreneurs, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced yesterday.
From the RM180 million, he said, RM150 million would be reserved through RM10 million from each of the participating 13 banks under the Budget 2012 SME Financing Fund, RM10 million SME soft loans from Malaysian Industrial Development Finance (MIDF), RM5 million under the Business Accelerator Programme and RM5 million under the Enrichment and Enhancement Programme meant for business start-ups and microenterprises.
In addition to the RM150 million, Najib (picture) said TEKUN Nasional would set aside RM30 million to provide microcredit loans to young Indian entrepreneurs under the Young Indian Entrepreneurs Development Scheme (SPUMI).
“Through this dedicated RM180 million fund for the Indian community, the government will manage to assist more Indian entrepreneurs to obtain loans, to start up or expand their businesses.
“In the Malaysian Indian Economic Conference (MIEC) blueprint memorandum discussed with me recently, there are three major issues that Indian businesses feel are preventing them from realising their full potential.
“The first is a legacy issue of negative credit history including bankruptcy and blacklisting. The second involves the various challenges faced in obtaining adequate and timely credit. And the third is for Indians to win contracts from government and government-linked companies (GLCs),” the prime minister said at the gala dinner organised in conjunction with the MIEC in Seri Kembangan.
Najib said the government was committed to assist Indian entrepreneurs to greater heights, and for the noble purpose, the government was going to address the Indian public’s priorities in terms of business opportunities in a threefold manner.
Other than the RM180 million in loans, Najib said the government would go to the ground and register Indians who have been blacklisted or made bankrupt over the next six months and then develop a fair and responsible solution to the problems facing them.
The third initiative would be to ensure that more Indian companies be upskilled and adequately qualified to bid for contracts dished out by the government and government-linked companies (GLCs), as well as ensure that a fair number of these qualified Indian contractors participate in these contracts.
He said the government, via Bank Negara and the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK), would partner with the MIEC to provide advisory services to those who were blacklisted or bankrupt and who wanted a second chance to achieve their aims and goals.
“This government-community partnership will have to organise a nationwide roadshow in much the same way the MyDaftar documentation initiative was implemented. The objective will be to gather precise fact-based feedback from Indians who are blacklisted in various locations throughout Malaysia.
“Once we have all the facts of this matter, we can clearly establish the extent and parameters of this blacklisting-bankruptcy problem. Only from here, can we develop policy measures to alleviate the situation of the people in the community affected by it.
“In this regard, we will also seriously engage with commercial banks so that they too can contribute to helping people clear their negative credit history and therefore, get on with their lives,” he said, adding that he was happy to note that the government had already embarked on this process.
Currently, about 100 people the MIEC had already identified and was already assisting to clear their names.
To address the lack of awareness among Indian business community on what had to be done prior to applying for loans and grants, Najib said the government had already funded the MIEC to set up a permanent secretariat to advise and assist Indian businessmen and women in submitting complete and credible proposals to banks and other financial institutions.
He said the secretariat could work with the Business Advisory Centre under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry in providing business advisory, guidance and counselling.
“Our intervention will not just stop there, in six months from now, I want a full report from the MIEC secretariat detailing how many complete applications made to banks and agencies, and how many have been successfully processed and approved.
“Based on this information, the government will take further actions to ensure that credit facilities are made available to all Malaysians who are creditworthy and who have fulfilled all the objective criteria spelled out by banks and other financial organisations,” the prime minister said.
Najib said the MIEC secretariat would also play a role to assist enough Indian contractors to upskill and meet all entry standards set by government, in order for the contractors to capture some contracts catered by the government and GLCs.
“With regards to GLCs, I understand that Khazanah Nasional Bhd and Permodalan Nasional Bhd will work with the MIEC secretariat and begin to take pro-active steps to ensure that more Indian companies participate in the GLC vendor development programmes,” he said.
The government, Najib said would work directly with the MIEC secretariat to know the facts and figures in terms of numbers of successful bids and of other relevant data, and based on the data, the policy makers would be able to make the right policy decisions wherever necessary to ensure that enough opportunities come the way of Indian contractors.
“Related to this, I would also encourage the many private companies that drive our economy to also take pro-active steps to increase Indian participation in their companies’ tenders and outsourcing,” he said. — Bernama