Sarawak Government Urged Not To Neglect SMEs In BKSS 6.0

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Press Statement By Irene Chang:

Sarawakians who fall into the M40 group are mostly disappointed with BKSS 6.0 roll out as once again they have been left behind in meaningful government assistance.

M40 group comprises of at least 40% of our population in Sarawak. And they are the ones who usually have the most financial obligations as in payments of loans, hire- purchases, house rentals and even business premises rentals if they are involved in small businesses. Even though the loans and hire-purchases payment from banks and financial institutions are in the purview of the Federal Government, what the State government can do to help is to give a special grant to Sarawakians in the M40 group who have these debt obligations.
Furthermore, the SMEs have also been left out in the cold by BKSS 6.0. Despite so many calls for assistances, there is again no direct financial assistance being given to help these businesses to stay afloat during this very difficult period.

With our huge state reserve, the state government should seriously work out an equitable co-sharing of rental obligations between our state government, landlords and tenants. Even though rental relief has been given to tenants for SMEs operating at premises owned and managed by government-linked companies (GLCs) in Sarawak under BKSS 6.0, this would only help a small fraction of the business population in the state. The government should not ignore the majority of the SMEs who have been operating in premises owned by private landlords. Assistance should be given to these tenants as this will ensure the continued viability of the rental and property market. Many other countries including Singapore, Canada and even Thailand are coming up with various rental relief for their SMEs. With a huge state reserve, there is no reason therefore why Sarawak cannot do the same for our own people.

A comprehensive state wage-subsidy programme should also be drawn up to assist these SMEs to continue paying their employees’ wages. A lot of businesses have closed down, most have downsized their staff and many employees have been laid off. In order to stop the increasing rate of unemployment, the state government should step in to give a state wage subsidy to these businesses. This will also help the affected SMEs that need more time and support to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic especially those in the non-essential services which would need to close again following the latest SOP by SDMC.

I urge the state government to do more for the M40s and the SMEs during this very difficult period.