KUALA LUMPUR: The government has so far disbursed only RM9 million of the RM100 million allocated under Budget 2012 to help Indians start small businesses.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department SK Devamany disclosed this in Parliament on Monday in response to M Manogaran (DAP-Teluk Intan), who asked for an update on government programmes to improve the economy of the Indian community.
Devamany said many applicants could not get loans because they did not meet the conditions imposed by Amanah Ikhtiar, the agency entrusted with disbursing the RM100 million.
He said Amanah Ikhtiar’s requirements were strict.
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced the allocation last year in a move seen as trying to regain the Indian votes that Barisan Nasional lost in 2008.
For Budget 2013, Najib announced an additional RM50 million for the fund.
Manogaran questioned the rationale of having strict conditions for financial assistance to people who need help to start small businesses.
“Why is it that allocations made for bumiputeras always reach the target group, but an allocation for Indians gets stuck in the middle? What’s wrong with the system?” he asked.
He urged the government to disclose the names of those who had received the assistance so that the public would know whether the target group had benefitted.
He also asked the government to explain what had happened to the RM91 million held back by Amanah Ikhtiar.
Commenting on the issue, Malaysian Indian Business Association president P Sivakumar said the government had failed in its programme to help Indians set up businesses.
He urged the government to allocate the funds to an independent body and to relax the conditions for loans.
“It’s time for the government to channel the fund to a professional body like Bank Simpanan Nasional,” he said. “We don’t need middlemen.”
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