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By Ling Hui
KUCHING, Aug 4: The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government has spent at least RM5.26 billion to help Sarawakians weather the Covid-19 pandemic through seven Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) relief packages so far.
The seventh package (BKSS 7.0) is estimated to cost the Sarawak government over RM800 million, and was announced today by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg in a surprise livestream session in conjunction with his 71th birthday.
Understanding the people’s difficulties due to the implemented lockdowns since March, 2020, he said the Sarawak cabinet was always thinking of methods and measures to reduce the impact the pandemic has had on lives and livelihoods.
“Therefore, I have previously announced the six BKSS packages covering more than 30 measures worth over RM4.5 billion since April, 2020,” he said during the announcement of BKSS 7.0 today.
Looking back at the previous packages in 2020, BKSS 1.0 was first launched on March 23 and cost RM1.15 billion, BKSS 2.0 worth RM1.1 billion was on April 10, BKSS 3.0 amounting RM300 million was on May 8, and BKSS 4.0 totalling RM104 million was announced on Oct 23.
In 2021, BKSS 5.0 worth RM405 million was introduced on Jan 21 while the recent BKSS 6.0 was on May 28 and cost the State government RM1.4 billion.
Today, BKSS 7.0 comprised three measures with focuses to strengthen company and business activities in Sarawak, which included special one-off cash assistance of RM10,000 to active businesses registered in Sarawak with SOCSO, relaxation of some government procurement policies, and extension of renewal of foreign workers’ employment permits to agriculture, mining, construction and services sectors.
With the announcement, Abang Johari expressed hope that the measures will help the continuation of industrial and business activities in Sarawak which is currently under the National Recovery Plan (NRP).
“I hope that the previous BKSS 6.0 that we are implementing can help our people in facing the difficulties of life at this time.
“I would also like to advise that the assistance, especially to the B40 groups given starting last month, can be utilised to the best for the survival of families,” he added. — DayakDaily