KUCHING (Sept 30): Small business owners are hoping that the government will set aside more funds in the 2023 Budget to introduce measures to reduce the high price of raw materials and spur the growth of businesses.

Facilities such as loans, subsidies and incentives alone would not cut it if the price of raw materials are still high, small business owners told The Borneo Post in a survey.

Chris Zafri Hill, 39, who operates a food stall at Jalan Chan Chin Ann here, said he had no choice but to sell his food at a higher price for a small margin of profit.

“I surely hope that the government will find ways to reduce the price of raw materials because at the moment, the price of raw materials is high and I believe many consumers in Sarawak are not earning enough to make ends meet.

“Many of my customers also complain that they are not able to dine out often because they need to save money because dining out can be expensive these days,” he added.

Another food business operator, Mohd Dzulafiqar Dianol, 30, said he too felt that the prices of raw materials are high in Sarawak.

He therefore felt that it would be a good move for the government to allocate funds and invest into finding ways to look into bringing down the price of raw materials in the state.

“All I want to see is the government finding ways to reduce the price of raw materials that is skyrocketing. That’s all,” he said.

Some small business owners who were interviewed commented that they hope that the government will have an allocation for facilities which can help small business owners be more motivated to run their businesses.

Hamka Sherbini, 52, who sells musical materials in Miri, opined that there must be more attractive loan schemes and incentives for small business owners since the government also recognises that small business owners contribute to the nation’s economy.

“It would be nice if there are more attractive incentives and loan offers introduced by the government for small business owners. This is because it is common knowledge that business owners are always needing loans and paying debts to keep their businesses afloat,” he said.

Similarly, Palima Ngadan, 35, who sells replica football jerseys in Spaoh, urged the government to create loans and incentives which are easy for small business owners to apply for.

He said at the moment, it could be hard for some small business owners to apply for loans because they need to provide a lot of documentation to enjoy such facilities.

“It can be hard to start a full-time business in the country. If I can get some sort of loan or be rewarded with incentives easily, maybe I’ll do my business full-time,” said Palima, pointing out that he only sells jerseys part time.

The national budget will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on Oct 7.

On Sept 26, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said that government business facilitation agencies need to continue to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sustain their recovery post-pandemic.

Agencies such as the Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan Bhd (SJPP) and Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd (CGC), can help MSMEs adapt to the changing economic landscape.

Zafrul said that this is important as Malaysia is expected to face various challenges in the fourth quarter of this year and into 2023 due to factors such as the war in Ukraine, the impact of China’s zero Covid-19 policy, and the continued hiking of interest rates by the US central bank, as well as supply chain disruptions.