Chong: State govt needs to get DUN to approve RM1.15 billion special assistance package

Chong Chieng Jen

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KUCHING, Apr 2: The state government should table a supplementary supply bill for the RM1.15 billion special assistance package in the upcoming State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Sitting on April 16.

Highlighting this, DAP Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen also urged the state government to include in the bill a further RM5 billion to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to pay 50 per cent of their employees’ wages to help businesses in Sarawak sustain themselves in this economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“DAP Sarawak will support the motion for the supply bill in the event that such bill is tabled in DUN sitting.

“It is proper financial procedure that before any money is taken out of the consolidated fund for government to spend, it must first be approved by the DUN,” he said in a statement today.

However, Chong emphasised that the RM1.15 billion Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance Package announced by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg was grossly insufficient to help the SMEs in Sarawak to weather the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Even if the Movement Control Order (MCO) were to be discontinued after April 14, he said that the state’s economy would take at least six months to recover given that most of the trading partner countries would still be under lockdown or movement restricted.

“Since the outbreak in Malaysia, tourism and hotel industries have been reduced to a standstill and will likely not recover for another six months.

“This in turn will impact gravely on the food and beverages and the wholesale and retail sectors.

“Even our manufacturing, construction and the agricultural sector have taken the hit badly. Not a single sector of the economy in the state is not adversely affected by the pandemic,” he added.

Without any government’s help in paying the wages of the employees, Chong pointed out that many companies would start retrenching their workers in the next three months and more could close down in the next six months.

Therefore, he said that it was most senseless and ignorant of Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah to take things lightly and to simply brush aside the proposal for the state to help subsidise employees’ wages just because such proposal came from the opposition.

“On Abdul Karim’s allegation about our proposal for 20 per cent oil royalty and 50 per cent tax collection for the state, such proposal was rejected by the GPS government and Abang Johari was confident that he could negotiate a better deal from (former prime minister) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad.

“In the end, Abang Johari got nothing from Tun Mahathir. It was greed and arrogance of the GPS that rendered the proposal not carried through.

“GPS has only itself to blame for not seeing the deal come through for Sarawak,” he criticised.

At this time of economic crisis and the Covid-19 virus, Chong said he does not wish to dwell on that but rather to focus on how to save the state’s economy in the coming months of recession and one of the ways was to help the SMEs survive this economic storm.

“My piece of advice to Abdul Karim, don’t wait till people get retrenched and companies start to shut down before the government starts to act,” he said. —DayakDaily