‘GPS must focus on saving jobs and businesses, not hold election’

Chong Chieng Jen

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KUCHING, Oct 27: Holding a state election should be the last thing on the minds of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and the GPS government, opines Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

Instead, Chong asserted, saving jobs and businesses from the Covid-19 pandemic fallout should be the top priority.

“The state government has allocated less than RM200 million for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Sarawak. This is grossly insufficient, given the rampage and devastation Covid-19 has made (sic) onto the economy.

“With the end of the moratorium on bank loan repayment starting October, the economy will suffer yet another setback as more businesses and individuals will have to start repaying loans,” Chong pointed out in a statement.

He asserted that this will have an adverse domino effect on the economy as people’s disposable income will be severely curtailed by their obligation to repay loans. There would be a drop in domestic demand and business activities followed by more people losing their jobs.

With the wage subsidy provided by the federal government coming to an end, Chong claimed many businesses affected only received wage subsidies for April until June.

He alleged that since July, they have not received any subsidy.

“With the implementation of targeted wage subsidy starting Oct 1 till the end of the year, many more will not receive any wage subsidy. This, coupled with the obligations to repay loans will force many businesses to either reduce their workforce or close down their businesses,” Chong lamented.

Believing that the worst is yet to come, he suggested that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government step forward to provide subsidies to SMEs because they form the backbone of Sarawak’s economy and the bulk of employment opportunities.

While the national wage subsidy programme for three months is estimated at RM5 billion, Chong asserted that the same programme can be implemented with a budget of RM500 million for Sarawak, which is not a heavy burden on the state government.

“(With) the recent RM2.9 billion from oil tax money and RM31 billion in reserves (it) is incomprehensible if the state government refuses to provide wage subsidies to the SMEs in the state,” Chong opined.

He added that it is pointless for GPS to keep harping on the balance of reserves Sarawak has, while the people in the state live on the brink of poverty, with business barely surviving and the economy taking a nosedive. — DayakDaily