KUCHING, July 7: Responding to criticisms that Sarawak had been shortchanged by Putrajaya with the appointment of only one minister and one deputy minister from the state, newly minted Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen said the government’s policy is what counts, not the number of ministerial positions.
He argued that Sarawakians did not benefit much in general even though the state had six ministers and several deputy ministers during the Barisan Nasional’s (BN) reign.
But under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government, which came to power only after the May 9 polls, several policies that benefitted the people, including Sarawakians, had been implemented.
“One is that we (PH) maintained the prices of RON95 petrol at RM2.20 per litre and diesel at RM2.18 per litre,” he told a press conference at Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) headquarters here this morning.
Chong, who is also state DAP chairman, pointed out that Sarawak had about 700,000 cars and some 750,000 motorcycles.
“So, just by maintaining the price of RON95 petrol and diesel is a huge savings for them (vehicle owners),” he said.
As for zero rating the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Chong said the price of a lot of goods had gone down in general, especially daily essentials and groceries sold at supermarkets.
“Thirdly, there has been some general feedback from companies and businesses around us that the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) is now less oppressive and suppressive when it comes to collecting taxes, unlike during the BN’s time.”
Asked about the high prices of goods in the rural areas of the state, Chong explained it was basically due to the transportation cost.
“Basically the prices of goods (in the rural areas are higher because of the transportation cost. To some extent, although the government provides subsidies, there are a lot of leakages.
“I see two ways to ensure prices of goods in the rural areas are reduced: review transportation cost and reduce leakages,” he said. — DayakDaily