Saving The SME Should Be The Priority Instead Of Elections

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Press Statement By Chong Chieng Jen:

Elections should be the last thing in the minds of Abang Jo and the GPS State Government. Instead, saving jobs and business should take paramount and top priority in the State Government’s agenda.

So far, the State Government has allocated less than RM200 million for the SMEs in the State.

This is grossly insufficient given the rampage and devastation the Covid-19 has made onto the State’s economy.

With the end of the moratorium on bank loan repayment starting October, the economy will suffer yet another setback as more businesses and individuals will have to start repaying loans. This will have a adverse domino effect on our economy as the disposable income of our people will be very much curtailed by their obligation to repay loans, internal demand dropped, businesses slow down and more will lose their jobs.

The wage subsidy provided by the Federal Government has almost ended. Many of those businesses who have received wage subsidy in the months of April till June have since July not received such subsidy anymore, and with the implementation of targeted wage subsidy starting 1-10-2020 till end of the year, many more will not receive any wage subsidy.

This, coupled with the obligation to repay loans, will force many businesses to either reduce their workforce or even close down their businesses.

The worst has yet to come.

In light thereof, it is incumbent upon the State Government to step forward to provide wage subsidy to the SMEs which form the backbone of our State’s economy and the bulk of employment opportunities.

While the national wage subsidy for 3 months was estimated to be RM5 billion, the same program can be implemented with a budget of RM500 million for Sarawak. This is not a heavy burden on the State Government.

With the recent RM2.9 billion oil tax money and the RM31 billion reserve, it is incomprehensible that the State Government still refuses to provide wage subsidy to the SMEs in the State.

There is no point to keep the money in the bank while businesses suffer and economy nosedive. There is also no point for the government to keep shouting about having a lot of reserves while the people live in the brink of poverty and business barely survive.

27-10-2020
Chong Chieng Jen
DAP Sarawak Chairman