KUCHING, Jan 16: Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen will meet up with Minister of Finance Lim Guan Eng to discuss the new Urban Transformation Centres’ (UTC) operating hours in Sarawak.
Chong, who is also Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman, made the announcement through a statement today.
In a recent announcement, the Ministry of Finance changed the operating hours of UTCs in Sarawak to 8am–5pm from Monday to Sunday, starting next Tuesday (Jan 22).
“While there is no complaint about the said operating hours on weekends (i.e. Saturdays and Sundays), many have expressed disappointment with the closure of the UTCs after office hours on weekdays,” said Chong, who is also Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister.
Previously, the operating hours of UTCs throughout the country were from 8am–10pm every day (14 hrs), seven days a week.
Chong said such extra-long operating hours had added financial strain on the government’s operating expenditure and has proven not to be an efficient and optimal use of government resources.
The new proposal reduced the operating hours to 9 hours a day, with varying operating hours at different locations in the country.
For some UTCs, the operating hours are from 1pm–10pm, while in Sarawak, the operating hours would be 8am–5pm.
“Many have called up to propose that UTCs in Sarawak start their operating hours around noon till 9pm so as to cater to those who wish to do their official business after office hours without having to take one-day or half-day leave from work.
“We understand that there is an urgent need to reduce the operating expenditure of the government, especially given that we have inherited a RM1 trillion debt from the previous government, and that there is an additional RM35 billion tax refund owed by the previous government that the new government has agreed to pay back to taxpayers this year.
“As such, with these financial constraints, we have to optimise the limited resources by adjusting the time of operation to suit the different needs of the locals.
“While we are still gathering feedback from the general public, I have scheduled to meet up with the Minister of Finance early next week to discuss the optimal operating hours of UTCs in Sarawak,” said Chong. — DayakDaily