30 September 2009
SME Corp loans, grants are now more industry-relevant
SME Corp Malaysia Bhd, which officially started its operations on September 1 2009, has streamlined its loans and grants for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to make them more relevant to the industry.
The number of SME fund managers has also been trimmed to avoid overlapping and to enhance efficiency in the implementation of the funds.
SME Corp chief executive officer Datuk Hafsah Hashim said there are now 19 loans for SMEs compared with 53 previously, while the number of grants have been reduced to 14 from 26 previously.
"The rationalisation exercise does not affect the amount (funds) of grants and loans available for the SMEs. It is done to avoid duplication and make it easier to measure the outcome," she told Business Times in an interview.
SME Corp, which will maintain the responsibilities of former Small andMedium Industries Development Corp (Smidec) in SME development, is also mandated to coordinate all SME data and programmes, act as a referral centre for SMEs, manage information, and undertake research on SMEs.
Hafsah said the rationalisation will make the SME loans and grants easier to manage and ensure that the funds meet the needs of the SMEs.
SME Corp has also categorised the SME funds into eight groups, namely Bumiputera, manufacturing and services, agriculture, research and development, innovation and commercialisation, strategic industry, micro-credit, export market, and ideas-based.
She said the SME fund managers have been cut to six, from the previous 10 supervising agencies and 17 implementing agencies.
The six ministries that will manage the funds are the ministries of international trade and industry, finance, agriculture, domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism, information communications and culture, and rural and regional development.
Hafsah said for this year, there have been 174 programmes for the SMEs with a RM3.4 billion allocation.
She also said that representatives from the ministries and banks will be housed under the same roof at its new office at Kuala Lumpur Sentral.
"We want to practise a no wrong-door policy. The SME Business Centre (to be located at the new office) will be a one referral centre for the SMEs," she said.
SME Corp also plans to set up a SME Central Park there, to meet the needs for incubators, packaging and design centres, marketing and distributon centre.
Hafsah said SME Corp is hiring more people to implement the agency's tasks and address the backlog cases of grants.
She said the agency has been receiving many applications during the economic crisis period, partly because banks have been more stringent.
Source :- Business Times