Press Statement By Chong Chieng Jen:
Is the Sarawak State Government running out of fund that it is now standing by looking at the sufferings and hardship of businesses of all sectors and refusing to allocate financial assistance to them? Rather, is the State Government keeping the money and waiting for the State Elections to dish them out?
During the first outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, there were announcements of BKSS (Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang). Though such financial assistance may not be able to fully cushion the economic impact of the pandemic, but surely it helped to lessen the sufferings of the people to a certain extent.
Since then, all sectors, except the e-commerce sector, have taken the hit for a full one-year period. Most businesses and petty traders had been operating at a loss or barely survived for the past one year, thereby exhausting their cash reserves and savings.
The people and businesses are in more need of cash assistance now than one year ago. Yet, the Sarawak Government still obstinately refuses to allocate fund for financial assistance to the hawkers, small traders, businesses and the SMEs.
Now that we are in the 3rd wave of the pandemic, the nation has been placed under MCO. Though the SDMC refuses to call it MCO and maintains that Sarawak be placed only under CMCO, but the Sarawak’s CMCO SOPs and effects are almost the same as the MCO in other states in the country, with “no dine-in”, restriction on certain sports activities, restricted trading hours, restricted manpower, etc.
While we acknowledge the fact that we need the MCO or the CMCO to curb the pandemic, but the government should not shut its eyes to the sufferings of the business sector and the people who suffer economically as a result of the CMCO or MCO.
The State Government had always boasted of having RM26 billion reserve fund. To help the people and the business sector at this difficult time, the State Government only needs to allocate 10% of this reserve fund.
While even the most prudent government of Singapore has dug into their reserves to help the business sector and the people of Singapore, it does not make any sense that the GPS Government continues to be obstinate in not utilising the fund to help the people of Sarawak, unless the State Government has difficulty in liquidating and utilising even 10% of the reserve fund for the people.
DAP Sarawak thus proposes that the following financial assistance be given by the State Government:
- RM1,500 cash handout be given to every hawker and petty trader in Sarawak;
- RM500 million interest-free loans be given to SMEs in Sarawak;
- RM100 million grant be given to SMEs in Sarawak for transformation into e-commerce and digitalisation;
- 50% wage subsidy be given to SMEs in Sarawak for 3 months to maintain their workforce;
- Direct assistance grant for those sectors which have been ordered to close operation and those in the tourism sector.
We urge the State Government to put the people’s interest at its heart. This is the time to help the people and there is no point for the Government to keep saying that Sarawak is rich and has a lot of reserves but such riches are not utilised to help the people at such time of difficult.
Ironically, while the previous measures were called Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS), it seems that now, the GPS Government no longer “Sarawakku Sayang” anymore.
Chong Chieng Jen
DAP Sarawak Chairman