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Day 11 of movement control order: Who will stand by you?

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The government has just announced a raft of cash handouts, but what is it doing to support small and medium-sized firms, wonders Caroleena Sue D’Cruz.

“Give a man to fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he (and his family) eat for a lifetime.”

The RM250bn so-called stimulus package by this “backdoor government” is perhaps the biggest sign yet that we have a terrifyingly incompetent government on our hands.

I am no economist; I am a small business owner with a simple business model. But even with my little knowledge, I can see that what has been put forward is nothing more than a poorly disguised, cheap attempt to ‘buy votes’ in the next general election.

Except for the six-month moratorium on bank loans, and the money invested in the healthcare sector [no specifics, so lots of room for procurement shenanigans], everything else in there is about throwing free money at the masses.

Free money to government servants who already have a monthly income assured. And free healthcare.

Free money to pensioners who have a monthly stipend paid directly into their accounts. And free healthcare.

Free money to singles, mainly young, salaried people employed by businesses. For our simple-minded government, this means the businesses are the ones that will keep these people employed. And with healthcare benefits.

Free money to ride-hailing drivers, who will be back in a cash business the minute the movement control order is lifted.

Free money, free money, free money.

Three months worth of cash that will just be splurged at one go, rather than being invested to ensure the sustainability of individuals, families, businesses.

Who will ensure that Malaysia keeps going?

Where is the investment to spur businesses?

Where is the plan to keep production lines running, services going, people employed?

Where is the plan to keep sales and exports going, so that there is a constant funnel of income going into the pockets of employed people, who in turn spend to sustain the economy?

It is a crying shame that our new finance minister, who previously helmed a major bank, didn’t stop to read the opening paragraphs of his own bank’s report, “SME Landscape in Malaysia”, developed in partnership with CompareHero.

“But the facts are that our country’s economic fate does rely on the success of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME). Don’t underestimate them, because despite their size, total contributions of SMEs in Malaysia are far from small. Just to share, 98.5% of all business establishments in Malaysia are SMEs, and in 2018, SMEs contributed RM521.7 billion of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). SMEs currently provide 5.7 million jobs to 70% of Malaysia’s workforce.”

But nothing in this so-called stimulus package to keep 98% of businesses going, 70% of the Malaysian workforce employed, and to make up for the RM500bn shortfall in GDP?

I can go on and on about where this package falls short, but you are all capable of reading it and making those judgments for yourself.

Locked in at home now, you have the power to research, understand, think.

Don’t take the word of the opposition [they too have their share of incompetents] or my word for that matter.

Use that phone of yours to search, to read, to talk to those whose views are bigger than yours and to small business owners about their problems.

Then, please, do these four things:

1. Buy local as much as you can. Support small businesses, especially those closest to you, so that your community survives beyond this government

2. Keep listening. When this movement control order is lifted, go out there wiser and more knowledgeable, and keep your eyes and ears open to what is really happening in this country,. Understand who is working for you, rather than against you.

3. Pick the people who are for the country, not for the vote. When the time comes to put vote to paper, pick the people who kept you and your business afloat.

4. Connect and support. And if you are an SME, connect with other SMEs and support each other. We are going to have to watch out for each other, because this #backdoorgovernment surely isn’t watching out for us.

Caroleena Sue D’Cruz is a small business owner who reads Aliran

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