Jakarta (ANTARA) - Minister of State-Owned Enterprises (BUMN) Erick Thohir is optimistic that the discussion on the proposal of zero-percent interest loans for micro-businesses can be completed within a month.

Thohir continues to encourage low-cost funding for micro-entrepreneurs and has submitted a proposal for providing zero-percent interest loans for micro-entrepreneurs to Governor of Bank Indonesia (BI) Perry Warjiyo.

"I have sent two deputy ministers (Deputy Ministers of BUMN) Pahala and Tiko to discuss this with BI. We hope that it will be completed in one month," Thohir noted in a statement in Jakarta, Monday.

Deputy ministers of BUMN -- Pahala Mansury and Kartika Wirjoatmodjo -- respectively discussed the BUMN funding in the food sector and expanding funding for the Mekaar program.

Thohir is keen that the zero-percent loan interest for micro-entrepreneurs be realized at the earliest. This proposal also received the green light from President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) at a limited meeting held some time ago.

"This proposal has received support from the president because there has already been a closed meeting. It is just now how do we push this to become a reality. Do not let the impression to be formed that big ones get much bigger interest than micro ones. This is what we always try to balance," he stated.

He noted that the micro business sector, which is included in MSME, has a major contribution to supporting the national economy.

Thohir remarked that the MSME sector contributed up to 62.55 percent to Indonesia's gross domestic product (GDP) and also contributed up to 97.22 percent in employment.

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However, the percentage of financing from financial institutions and banks for MSMEs currently only reaches 21 percent or lower than that in neighboring countries.

The minister noted that the BUMN remain committed to helping target a minimum of 30 percent of the financing share for MSMEs next year.

"Since the beginning, we have continued to encourage community programs, such as KUR, PNM Mekaar, and Makmur, to increase and reach more business persons, including micro-businesses," he remarked.

Thohir noted that the BUMN bank or Himbara is at the forefront at taking sides with micro-business players. KUR distribution by Himbara has reached Rp345 trillion that is spread to 7.2 million business players throughout Indonesia. The Mekaar program has also recorded an increase in the number of customers since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

He also noted that the number of Mekaar customers before the pandemic reached only 5.6 million, and based on data as of November 2022, the figure reached 12.7 million. Meanwhile, Makmur has empowered 43,079 farmers throughout Indonesia and has been proven successful in increasing productivity by 36 percent and income by 46 percent.

"This is also our commitment to encourage micro-entrepreneurs to improve. Strengthening this sector will have a huge impact on the Indonesian economy in general," Thohir stated.

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Translator: Aji Cakti, Cindy Frishanti Octavia
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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