Govt to announce special package for small scale business: Hammad Azher - UrduPoint News

Govt to announce special package for small scale business: Hammad Azher - UrduPoint News

Govt to announce special package for small scale business: Hammad Azher - UrduPoint News

Posted: 18 Apr 2020 07:39 AM PDT

Govt to announce special package for small scale business: Hammad Azher

Minister for Industries and Production, Hammad Azher on Saturday said that the government would soon announce special relief package for small and medium scale industries affected by lockdown

ISLAMABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 18th Apr, 2020 ) :Minister for Industries and Production, Hammad Azher on Saturday said that the government would soon announce special relief package for small and medium scale industries affected by lockdown.

Addressing a press briefing here, the minister said that the Prime Minister was much worried for small and medium term businessmen, who were facing losses due to lockdown.

He said that in first phase, the government would provide relief in Utility Bill's to small and medium scale business.

The government would also offer loans to those small and medium scale businesses that were facing losses due to lockdown.

Hammad Azher said that Utility Stores Corporation was also providing all necessary items to the people on subsidies rate.

Stimulus intended to help coronavirus-ravaged small businesses instead rewarding hedge funds, brokerages - Fox Business

Posted: 17 Apr 2020 04:42 PM PDT

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When the chief executive of a midsized bank was briefed on the status of small-business loans being made under the federal government's coronavirus stimulus plan, he nearly hit the roof.

The bank was receiving applications not just from those barely solvent mom-and-pop businesses like restaurants, salons and family-run factories shuttered amid the nationwide pandemic shutdown that the legislation was supposed to help.

Flowing into his system were applications from businesses no one would consider small, or even barely solvent: Midsized hedge funds, brokerage businesses, small law firms, all outfits that are making money, much of it through fee income, and many operating remotely almost as if nothing had changed.


How could this be? What the banker discovered was that with less than 500 employees, financial firms and other high-end businesses are technically qualified for low-interest federally guaranteed loans under the broad parameters of the government's Payroll Protection Program (PPP).

And many were sending applications to his bank for the cash, as much as $10 million in the form of a forgivable loan, even if these weren't the types of small businesses Washington was looking to aid.

Even worse, the hedge funds and brokerage businesses were in effect taking money that should be earmarked for businesses that can barely survive in a time of social distancing and quarantines.

These companies have been forced to lay off workers just to make rent, while many banks were prioritizing loans on a first-come, first-served basis and giving priority to their best customers. That means hedge funds and financial firms with deep pockets and significant banking relationships could be getting the money ahead of the local coffee shop.


"Unlike the local coffee shop, hedge funds and brokerage firms are still earning fee income from their clients," said the banker, a well-known fixture in the financial business, who spoke on the condition that neither he nor his firm would be identified. "And now they're taking money away from people who need it the most."

The banker says he spoke to FOX Business because he is concerned about the inequality gap involving the pandemic stimulus and the social unrest it could create. He said the spending being directed at Wall Street through various Federal Reserve programs as well as the hedge fund loophole in the loan program dwarfs the stimulus designed for Main Street businesses.

And he said it will lead to a widening class divide when the quarantines are over unless the federal government acts and acts fast. If small businesses don't have access to the stimulus funds, they will increase layoffs — many of these employees are minorities and all of them working-class Americans — or face bankruptcy, as is happening today.

Wall Street, meanwhile, has been thriving, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average recovering a chunk of its losses since the pandemic began, the result of unprecedented actions by the Federal Reserve.

"What's going to happen is a class divide we haven't seen in years," the banker told FOX Business. "Remember Occupy Wall Street?" he asked, referring to the sometimes violent protest movement after the 2008 financial collapse and bank bailouts. "These protests will be bigger and more violent because the economic problems are worse and the disparity of the money is favoring Wall Street even more."

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FOX Business reached out to a Treasury Department spokesman on the issue of whether hedge funds and brokerage shops should be tapping into the PPP loan program. The spokesman didn't answer telephone calls and emails seeking comment.

But officials at the nation's big banks did. In a series of interviews, speaking on a not-for-attribution basis, officials at several large New York City-based banks say they are also concerned about the potential for class warfare because of the uneven nature of the Wall Street-vs.-Main Street bailouts.

Even worse, they're powerless to do anything because the Treasury Department is setting the rules that don't distinguish between hedge funds and flower shops that they have no input in developing. "If a hedge fund applies for a PPP loan and qualifies, we have no choice but to make the loan," said one official at a major New York City financial institution.

The banker who alerted FOX Business to the hedge fund loan matter says he's taking a different approach. "I'm telling my people not to make these loans," he said. "Because the pitchforks are coming, and I don't want to be responsible."


It wasn't so long ago that the Trump administration's economic policies of low taxes and less regulation were heralded for creating conditions that led to historically low unemployment, rising wages and a massive stock market rally.

But that was before the coronavirus hit, forcing a near nationwide quarantine and a near-collapse of the $20 trillion U.S. economy.

Small businesses, such as restaurants, coffee shops, butchers, any business that depends on foot traffic, were among those companies most vulnerable to the measures designed to limit the spread of the virus.

And they were maybe the most important part of the economy, accounting for nearly 50 percent of the American workforce.


As the U.S. headed for a possible depression, the response from the government was a massive, albeit hastily designed, set of stimulus programs. The Federal Reserve has pumped an estimated $10 trillion of stimulus through money-printing, slashing interest rates and buying various risky securities in the market, which has had the effect of propping up trading revenues among investment banks, hedge funds, brokerages and private equity houses.

By comparison, the federal government has passed a single $2 trillion spending plan to help individuals through payroll tax credits and free money, while Main Street businesses could apply for billions of dollars in forgivable loans.

Dig deeper into the Main Street relief efforts and the inequality becomes even more glaring: As traders are feasting off of low borrowing costs thanks to the Fed, mom-and-pop businesses are facing reams of bureaucratic red tape to get a piece of a relatively small chunk of money, the $350 billion set aside for the payroll protection program.

The loans are forgivable if the business doesn't lay off its workers, but layoffs are often inevitable because the government checks only go so far and many didn't get the money before it ran out earlier this week.

The relatively small size of the business loan program meant that banks had to prioritize lending to either their best customers or those who showed up first. Hedge funds and other financial businesses often get preferential treatment because they use banking services more than say a local hairdresser, bankers concede.

It's unclear how hedge funds and independent brokerages and other high-end businesses applied for the loans. Hedge funds, for their part, are investment pools that cater to so-called qualified investors, or the wealthy. They are exempt from most regulatory restrictions and can take extra risk in the markets.

Most of the $3.2 trillion industry is dominated by global players who employ more than the program's employee limit of 500.

That said, there are ways even big hedge funds are benefiting from the PPP loans. Bankers tell FOXBusiness that many hedge funds are minority investors in lucrative small firms that could -- and have -- qualified for the loans.

Congress is now hammering out the details of another $250 billion in federal money earmarked for low-interest small business loans, but based on the demand for the first leg of the program, this money will not be enough to meet demand, bankers say.

Meanwhile lawmakers have also shown little interest in fixing rules that could focus funds on traditional small businesses, the bankers concede.


Meanwhile, FOX Business has learned banks are bracing for legal liabilities because they are associated with a plan that is riddled with red tape, relatively small in size and so broadly written that hedge funds can get the money before genuinely small businesses.

And they say the class warfare situation could be even more acute than what they faced in the aftermath of the 2008 bailouts -- the Occupy Wall Street movement and a large-scale regulatory crackdown as Fed stimulus pushed up stock prices but Main Street businesses were mired in the worst of the Great Recession.

Recall, the 2008 financial crisis jolted the U.S. economy, but it largely remained open for business. The pandemic has caused much of the U.S. economy to shut down. The bailouts have benefited market speculators, while small businesses are fighting for crumbs.

And many of those crumbs are falling into what some on Wall Street have been arguing are the wrong hands. Bankers tell FOX Business that everyone from LLCs owning yachts that employ chefs and other personnel to small law firms are applying for the money in addition to financial firms.

Most are doing so as they make money -- and quietly, not looking to draw attention to their efforts. But former Trump Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, the managing partner of SkyBridge Capital, a so-called fund-of-funds that invests client money into hedge funds, doesn't see a problem with financial firms receiving low-interest loans.


Scaramucci recently told Bloomberg he thinks hedge funds getting loans "might make sense." In another interview, Scaramucci told MSNBC, "Just because the business has a name, private equity or hedge fund manager, doesn't necessarily mean that they're loaded with rich people" who are their employees.

Scaramucci didn't return telephone calls and text messages asking whether Skybridge has applied for PPP funds, but he makes a good point: Many people who would be considered middle-class work for financial firms in various capacities and could be harmed by the pandemic shutdown if their business closes.

And the market volatility that has zig-zagged stock and commodity prices could put many mid-sized hedge funds out of business.

But bankers tell FOX Business that hedge funds and financial firms do not face the same dire economic circumstances as traditional small businesses. Financial firms can easily work remotely; their biggest overhead isn't a building, but humans who can trade from home as easily as in the office. And even while the Main Street economy is shuttered, Wall Street is open 24-7. That allows these firms to make money on fees for trading client accounts.

"The rules written by Treasury were so broad that anyone can qualify," said a banker who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "All they had to do is tell us to lend to people who weren't making money. Instead, they just threw money at the problem and not enough at Main Street."


Banks Scramble to Help Small Businesses Apply for Federal Relief - The Vineyard Gazette - Martha's Vineyard News

Posted: 18 Apr 2020 06:35 AM PDT

Community banks on Martha's Vineyard worked at a furious pace over the last two weeks to process hundreds of loan applications for small businesses seeking financial relief during the coronavirus emergency.

Money in the Paycheck Protection Program, a federal $349 billion loan-relief fund, ran out on Thursday. Efforts to refund the program have been stalled in Congress.

But before that happened, Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank president James Anthony said some 800 Island businesses had filed applications and many will begin to see approvals for funding. Over 1.6 million loans were approved nationwide, including 46,937 to small businesses in Massachusetts, before the program was closed, according to the Small Business Administration, which guarantees the loans.

"It all happened remarkably fast," Mr. Anthony said.

Burt Talerman, co-president of Cape Cod 5, which has a full service branch in Vineyard Haven, said his bank too saw a large volume of applications.

"Volume on this has been very significant," Mr. Talerman said.

Passed by Congress last month, the Paycheck Protection Program is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Mr. Anthony said any small business with fewer than 500 employees can apply for a loan as high as two and a half times their monthly payroll, capped at $10 million. He said all types of businesses, from one-person farming operations to large-scale restaurants, have applied for the loan.

He said after applications were made available April 3, the bank kept 30 people working around the clock to process the applications, which were still coming in at a pace of 40 per day as the federal officials announced Thursday that fund had run dry. Speaking to the Gazette by phone, Mr, Anthony twice had to hold to take calls from bank clients.

"We've gotten ourselves up and over the wave," he said. "But we are dedicating all of our energy towards as many loan guarantee acceptances from the SBA as possible."

The loans covers payroll-related expenses, such as wages, mortgage, rent, utilities and overhead costs. The loans are forgivable, meaning that businesses can be reimbursed if the funds are used in eight weeks, 75 per cent of the funds are spent on payroll and the business is at full employment by June 30.

With many businesses closed and temporarily laying off staff, Mr. Anthony acknowledged concerns that some would not qualify for the forgiveness, as they may not to spend the money in the eight-week window or reach full employment by the end of June. He said that includes much of the restaurant industry, which is restricted to takeout until May 4 under the statewide stay-at-home order. While some Island restaurants have switched to takeout, the vast majority are closed, and employee layoffs are widespread.

Mr. Anthony said the bank functions as a liaison between businesses and the SBA, which ultimately has final approval over applications. He said the SBA has adopted a first-come, first-served approach, which explains the rush of applications over the past two weeks.

The application process has been clouded with confusion on all sides, Mr. Anthony said. As early as the first day, the SBA was already beginning to redefine the format of the application.

"We had people working to prepare in advance. By the night the application opened, we were already out of date," he said.

He said the SBA's intent was to get money out to businesses as soon as possible, and the process was launched as it was being written. Along the way, he said there have been significant tweaks to the process outlined by the SBA since April 3 to meet the high demand. Banks and businesses have been struggling to keep pace with the rapidly evolving process. "Its essentially like building a bike as they ride it. We're on that journey with them," Mr. Anthony said.

Though not all the applications have been approved by the SBA, Mr. Anthony said money has already begun to flow toward some.

Mr. Anthony said he has relayed the concerns of small businesses to the Federal Reserve in Boston, as they determine how to modify the program.

And while the applications show no sign of slowing down, Mr. Anthony said his team has begun to transition to the back end of the application process, which involves more work with the SBA to ensure approval of guaranteed loans.

Meanwhile, Mr. Anthony said normal banking activities continue.

And he was upbeat about the bank's own recent $650,000 coronavirus relief inititiative, which allows consumers to buy gift certificates to help support local businesses, with the bank providing a match. The program runs through the month of April.

Stocks Rally After Talk of Reopening Economy: Live Updates - The New York Times

Posted: 17 Apr 2020 04:21 PM PDT

Here's what you need to know:

Credit...Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Money from the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of funds on Thursday, flowed heavily to California and Texas, with construction companies and manufacturers getting the largest number of loans, rather than harder-hit retailers and restaurants, according to new data.

The nearly $350 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program also disproportionately flowed to states that have suffered fewer infections and deaths under the virus, like Kansas, than to harder-hit states like New York and New Jersey, when adjusting for the size of the small-business economy in each state.

The new data, which include loan approvals through Thursday, show accommodation and food service firms have received less than 9 percent of the money from the program, about $30.5 billion, though they have suffered the largest job losses of any industry during this recession. Construction firms received the largest share, at just over 13 percent, or about $45 billion.

Adjusting for the total amount of money that small businesses pay their employees and would be eligible to receive in loans to cover payroll, the Great Plains states emerge as big winners, with Nebraska, Kansas and the Dakotas receiving disproportionate shares of the money. By that metric, Nebraska did twice as well as New York.

The S.B.A. program was intended for banks to distribute the loans, which the federal government will pay off in most cases. That structure benefited companies with existing relationships with banks.

S.B.A. officials included data on the largest lending institutions in the program, though they were not identified. The top lender distributed more than $14 million in loans with an average size of more than $500,000 per loan — suggesting that the institution was giving loans to relatively large businesses.

Stocks in the United States rallied on Friday, with efforts to reopen the economy taking center stage and investors undeterred by more data showing the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic.

The gains came after President Trump told governors on Thursday that they could begin reopening businesses in their states by May 1 or earlier, and Boeing — one of the nation's largest manufacturers — said it planned to bring about 27,000 employees back to work in Washington State to resume aircraft production.

The announcement is the first attempt at large-scale resumption of business activity by a U.S. corporation since the coronavirus outbreak forced companies and government officials to shut down most nonessential work. Boeing's shares rose more than 14 percent on Friday.

Some European automakers — including Volkswagen, Volvo and Daimler — are planning to restart assembly lines next week, staffed by workers in masks and protective clothing, sometimes separated from one another by plastic screens.

Opel, a unit of the French automaker PSA, said it would reopen its German dealerships on Monday after the German government announced that it would gradually ease lockdown restrictions.

The S&P 500 rose 2.7 percent, while Boeing's gains led the Dow Jones industrial average to a 3 percent jump.

After global stock markets nose-dived earlier this year, they have been rebounding since late March, as investors have routinely looked past evidence of the damage caused by stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns, and instead focused on hopes for an eventual recovery. The gains on Friday mean stocks ended the week higher, despite reports showing a historic plunge in retail sales and a continued surge in unemployment claims.

The S&P 500 is now up more than 28 percent from its lowest point this year, which was reached on March 23. It is still nearly 18 percent below its high in late February.

On Friday, the rally came after China reported that its economy — the world's second-largest after that of the United States — shrank for the first time in decades. And data on car sales in Europe showed they collapsed.

Some also saw hopeful signs in a report by the medical news website STAT that a drug from Gilead Sciences showed early — and, thus far, unproven — promise in fighting the coronavirus. According to STAT, the antiviral drug, remdesivir, has helped patients with severe symptoms recover rapidly in a clinical trial at a Chicago hospital. Gilead's shares jumped nearly 10 percent.

President Trump said Friday he would channel $19 billion to American farmers and ranchers that have been hurt by the fallout from coronavirus, payments that come on top of tens of billions of dollars of assistance given to farmers in the last year to offset the pain of the trade war with China.

The Trump administration will make $16 billion in direct payments to farmers who have experienced losses from coronavirus, Mr. Trump said in a briefing Friday evening. It would also purchase a further $3 billion of fresh produce, dairy and meat that will be distributed through food banks and other community and faith organizations to people in need, he added.

"These are great people, great Americans," Mr. Trump said. "It is money well deserved. Not only were they targeted at one point by China, that was over a period of time, and they never complained."

Over the past year, the Trump administration has extended $28 billion to American farmers and ranchers to help offset the pain of a trade war with China. Mr. Trump ratcheted up tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese products in an effort to reach a trade deal, prompting China to respond with tariffs on American soybeans, pork, dairy and other products that crippled sales to one of the world's largest markets.

The news media industry continues to be shellacked by the dismal advertising market as businesses remain shuttered throughout much of the country. The New York Times now estimates that approximately 33,000 workers in the media industry have been affected by planned layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs, up from 28,000 last week.

The magazine company Condé Nast announced on Monday that it was cutting the pay of nearly half its work force by 10 to 20 percent. The newspaper chain Advance Local — which shares a corporate parent with Condé — said this week that it would furlough employees for one to two weeks.

Digital sites, whose subscription businesses are often immature or nonexistent, continue to impose cost-savings as a way to stanch the bleeding in the ad market. Slate, which converted its membership program, Slate Plus, into a paywall last month, is cutting all employees' pay on a sliding scale. Vox Media, which purchased New York Media last year, is furloughing roughly 10 percent of its work force and cutting the pay of high-earning employees.

The Los Angeles Times, one of the country's largest newspapers by circulation, announced internally this week that it was furloughing 40 non-newsroom workers and cutting senior managers' pay. It also shuttered three community weeklies, laying off 14 people, including guild members.

In February, Uber said it had expected to bring in $16 billion to $17 billion in revenue this year. On Thursday, the company said it could no longer forecast what will happen.

Lyft has not yet made a similar announcement, but there's no reason to think it faces a different fate.

Drawing from aggregated debit and credit card purchases of millions of U.S. consumers, for example, the analytics firm Second Measure found that spending on Uber's rides dropped about 83 percent in March. And earnings tracker service Gridwise, using data collected from more than 30,000 drivers nationwide, found that the average hourly earnings of drivers dropped 36 percent from the beginning of March to the middle of the month. By the end of March, wages began to recover slightly, but were still down 24 percent.

So how are the companies dealing with the slump? For now, the strategy appears to be: Wait it out, and deliver food — as much of it as possible.

Uber's money-losing food delivery service, Uber Eats, most likely surpassed Uber's ride-hailing business in sales by mid-March and jumped about 27 percent for the month, according to Second Measure.

Although Lyft had no food delivery business before the pandemic, it created a temporary one to deliver meals and groceries for students and seniors. And on Wednesday, Lyft expanded the program to 11 major cities, including Atlanta, Houston, San Francisco and Seattle.

Frauds around the coronavirus include businesses selling intravenous vitamin C drips to "boost immunity" to the virus, websites offering masks that never arrive and even reports of fake drive-up testing sites, where impostors swabbed people's cheeks in exchange for cash.

Here are some questions and answers about coronavirus-related fraud:

How can I protect myself from coronavirus fraud?

First, understand that there are currently no F.D.A.-approved vaccines or treatments for the coronavirus, said Noah Joshua Phillips, an F.T.C. commissioner. That will, hopefully, change — but you are unlikely to hear about it first via a shady robocall. The best thing to do if you get a suspicious call is to hang up, he said.

What if I am expecting a government stimulus payment?

Most people don't have to do anything to get their economic stimulus payments, which the government is issuing to help people facing money troubles because of the virus. Those payments will be deposited into your bank account automatically, the I.R.S. said.

"The I.R.S. isn't going to call you asking to verify or provide your financial information" so you can get your payment faster, the head of the agency, Chuck Rettig, said in a statement this month.

I saw a social media report about virus-related fraud occurring door to door. Is this true?

Agencies including the F.B.I. have issued public warnings about people selling fake virus test kits and "unapproved treatments" on "door-to-door visits." The inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services also warned of "scammers" going door to door offering Covid-19 tests in exchange for personal details, like Medicare information.

New data on Friday gave the first concrete indication of how severely European carmakers were hit by coronavirus lockdowns, and it was every bit as bad as feared.

New car registrations in the European Union fell 55 percent last month compared with a year earlier, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said, as dealers closed their doors and buyers were stuck in their homes. Owners registered 570,000 new cars during the month, down from 1.3 million in March 2019.

Sales all but evaporated in Italy, the European country that went into lockdown the earliest, falling 85 percent. Spain and France also suffered declines of around 70 percent.

Carmakers that depend on southern Europe for sales also suffered the most. Fiat Chrysler sales plummeted 77 percent. PSA, whose brands include Peugeot, Citroën and Opel, suffered a 68 percent plunge in sales.

German carmakers BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen fared marginally better, with declines of less than 50 percent.

  • Boeing will resume operations on Monday in the Philadelphia area, where it produces military aircraft such as the H-47 Chinook and V-22 Osprey. The work had been suspended for two weeks on April 3. On Thursday, Boeing said it planned to bring back 27,000 workers next week to facilities in Washington State to work on commercial aircraft production.

  • Walmart said that it had hired 150,000 workers since March 19, and it pledged to hire 50,000 more. The retailer said it had received more than a million applications since its initial hiring announcement. The new workers will be hired on a temporary basis, it said, adding that many had been furloughed from other companies and were looking to bridge the gap until they returned to their original jobs.

  • The organizers behind San Diego Comic Con, the annual pop culture celebration, announced on Friday that the event was canceled, the first time in its 50-year history. Fans who purchased badges can request a refund or transfer their badges to next year's event.

  • Ford Motor said it expected to report a $2 billion loss for the first quarter, on revenue of $34 billion. The announcement came in a regulatory filing ahead of a full quarterly report on April 28. The automaker said earlier this week that its first-quarter wholesale volume was down 21 percent from a year earlier, mainly because of the outbreak's impact on production and demand. It said last month that it was suspending its dividend and any share buybacks.

  • General Electric's aviation leasing division said it was canceling 69 orders for Boeing's troubled 737 Max jet, which has been grounded for over a year after two fatal crashes. Boeing received 150 Max order cancellations last month. In the first quarter, it took in four times as many order cancellations as new orders.

  • Procter & Gamble, the consumer products giant, reported a big jump in sales for the quarter as consumers stocked up on paper towels, toilet paper and diapers. P&G reported that organic net sales rose five percent to $17.2 billion. The company said increased shipments in North America and some parts of Europe offset declines in some Asian markets.

  • The coronavirus outbreak has brought China's extraordinary, nearly half-century-long run of growth to an end. The country's National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday that the economic output shrank 6.8 percent from January through March compared to the same period last year. It's the first economic shrinkage acknowledged in official statistics since 1976, when the country was in the final days of the Cultural Revolution.

Reporting was contributed by Daisuke Wakabayashi, Davey Alba, Gina Kolata, Jack Ewing, Abdi Latif Dahir, Simon Marks, Karen Weise, Julie Creswell, Marc Tracy, Elaine Yu, Kevin McKenna, Nelson D. Schwartz, Kate Conger, Katie Thomas, Erin Griffith, Emily Flitter, Alan Rappeport, Brooks Barnes, Keith Bradsher, Amie Tsang, Geneva Abdul, Niraj Chokshi, Vindu Goel, Carlos Tejada and Mike Ives. Yiwei Wang and Coral Yang contributed research.

Gov't Sets Up Business Areas for SMEs on Borders, Toll Road Rest Stops - Jakarta Globe

Posted: 18 Apr 2020 03:49 AM PDT

Jakarta. The Public Works and Housing Ministry has prepared business facilities designated for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to help them cope with the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said on Friday the business facilities are being built along border posts, toll road rest areas and resort places. The government also revitalized traditional markets to accommodate more small businesses.

"[The facilities are] intended to bring SMEs closer to their customers and allow them to promote local brands and products, including culinary," Basuki said.

New facilities are built along the Trans Java and Trans Sumatra toll roads. As an example, Basuki mentioned the rest stop at KM 429 on Semarang-Solo toll road, Central Java, where 11 SMEs occupied a culinary space to sell products and promote their own brands. 

The business facilities are expected to bring real economic impact to the surrounding community and serve as a platform for SMEs to promote their products, he said.

The ministry also builds "supporting infrastructure" for small-scale businesses around border posts, including Entikong, Arau and Badau in West Kalimantan; Motaain, Motamasin and Wini in East Nusa Tenggara; and Skouw in Papua. At those areas, the government sets up small markets for local traders.

In the remote Skouw border post, the ministry allocated Rp 117.5 billion ($7.5 million) to build a commercial area and a market center. At least 304 stalls have been built in an area of 3,600 square meters.

The ministry also builds market centers and creative hubs for SMEs at famous tourist resorts Lake Toba, Borobudur Temple, Mandalika Bay and Labuan Bajo Beach, he said.


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