KUCHING, Nov 11: Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen has urged the state government to allocate RM1 billion to help the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in the form of wage subsidies and direct grants, to help these SMEs survive the economic recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There is too little and almost negligible effort in the State Budget 2021 to help the SMEs,” he pointed this out when debating the Supply (2021) Bill 2020 at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Sitting today.
He noted that the assistance offered to SMEs in the State Budget so far were interest subsidies to more than 40,000 SMEs with an allocation of RM80.7 million and the Sarawak Micro Credit Scheme with RM37 million this year and RM50 million 2021.
“For the interest subsidy, though a sum of RM80.7 million was mentioned, that figure is divided into three years, with RM17.3 million disbursed in 2020, and estimated RM19 million for 2021.
“Therefore, for all the claims of the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) government in trying to help the SMEs, only an approximate sum of RM54 million was allocated for this purpose this year and a further RM69 million in 2021,” he explained.
From an estimated expenditure of close to RM10 billion a year of the state government, Chong said that only RM54 million this year and RM69 million next year allocated to help the SMEs.
“That is less than 0.01 percent. It is a pittance, considering that SMEs form the backbones of the state’s economy.
“We need to save the SMEs in the state in order to save jobs. The RM1 billion allocation will thus be of great help to our SMEs and their employees,” he stressed.
Chong also called on the government to stop the quarry operation near 7th Mile Bazaar as the quarry is too near to the residential area.
“The quarry operation has now blasted to a depth of a few hundred feet depth and it is very near residential houses in the vicinity.
“The residents suffered in anxiety that the strata of the land under their houses may be undermined by the incessant blasting from the quarry. They have petitioned to the authority to call for the stoppage of the quarry operation, but to no avail,” he informed the House.
Noting that the quarry is now owned by Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) and is within the control of the Sarawak government, Chong emphasised that the government should not risk the lives of thousands of residents in the adjacent area just for the benefit of one quarry company.
“With the incessant blasting by the quarry, how can the government guarantee the quarry wall stability and integrity and that there will not be a massive landslide caused by the quarry wall failure,” he questioned. – DayakDaily