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Task force needed for SME Masterplan [06-08-2012]  
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While the Small Medium Enterprise Masterplan 2012-2020 will serve as a roadmap to boost small and medium enterprise (SME) sector over the next eight years, the custodianship of the plan by any single agency should not be encouraged, industry observers said.

Under the masterplan launched last month, SME Corp would be the agency to spearhead the plan as well as to strengthen its role and function.

Industry observers said while the move to have SME Corp to spearhead the plan was welcomed, there was a crucial need for a task force to oversee the overall implementation for the plan to become effective and successful.

Recently, the National SME Development Council (NSDC) has called for a single agency to be the custodian of the SME Masterplan. It said the agency should be accountable for ensuring the implementation of the plan and tracking the progress of the masterplan's objectives.

The NSDC added that SME Corp would need sufficient authority and resources and have a more active role in the budgetary decision on SME development.

SMI Association of Malaysia national president Teh Kee Sin told StarBiz that a task force comprising the relevant ministries and trade non-governmental organisations spearheaded by SME Corp should be the way rather than a single custodianship.

“By having a task force, it will facilitate effective implementation of the six high impact programmes under the plan. Time is of essence and eight years is not a very long period for these programmes to realise and achieve its objectives.

“With the right people from various ministries, it will allow for periodical assessments, monitoring and making the necessary changes for effective implementation of the plan. This will help to fast track the otherwise noble plan which the SME sector has long been waiting for,” he added.

An industry observer, who prefers anonymity, said the plan was an important roadmap for SMEs and should not be wholly governed by a single entity as “lethargy” would set and the policies and objectives would not be timely implemented.

Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Malaysia SMEs chairman Koong Lin Loong said SME Corp, with its vast experience in dealing with the SMEs, would be able to benefit the sector.

However, working hand-in-hand with various chambers and SME organisations would ultimately benefit SMEs on the whole, he said.

This was because of their knowledge and experience in handling and resolving issues at the ground level, he noted.

The masterplan was timely and comprehensive, he said, adding that it would propel the sector to contribute more to the economic growth.

Koong said contribution from the SME sector to gross domestic product (GDP) was around 32% now compared with about 60% in countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore.

The plan would also expedite SMEs to go global as currently, about 19% of the SMEs were involved in the export sector, Teh added.

Meanwhile, Kong said the masterplan would accelerate growth of the SME sector in the right direction, in line with the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) towards becoming a high-income nation by 2020.

To facilitate overseas expansion, he said the Government could provide various assistance.

“Under the ETP, there are several mega projects such as My Rapid Transit and Menara Warisan. It is important for the Government to ensure that SMEs can act as satellite industries in these projects to accelerate their growth,” Koong added.

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