KUCHING, Jan 22: Sarawak People’s Aspiration Party (Aspirasi) proposed that the Sarawak government grant an Emergency Basic Income (EBI) of RM200 per month for 12 months for all Sarawakians above 18 years of age.
Its president Lina Soo proposed this as she viewed that the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) 5.0 announced by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg yesterday offered little for Sarawakians to pick up their lives again.
“The BKSS 5.0 is merely a recycled copy-paste of BKSS 4.0.
“This is because the financial assistance does not extend to putting any consuming power into the pockets of the ordinary man on the street.
“Where there is no consumption, there is no demand for goods and services and the economy will never move,” she criticised the latest measures of BKSS in a statement today.
The EBI, Soo explained will help to ease the pain of Sarawakians who have fallen on hard times especially daily paid workers, labourers, farmers, retrenched staff, unemployed school leavers and jobless graduates.
“This across-the-board cash handout must be unconditional and expedited on the urgency for speed, efficiency and efficacy.
“Rich recipients can donate the RM200 to their favourite charity,” she said.
Pointing out that even though the EBI for one year will cost about RM4.5 billion, Soo, however, emphasised that this government spending will put cash into the pockets of Sarawakians to increase consumption, increase the money supply and generate a multiplier effect.
“BKSS 4.0 and 5.0 are only halfway measures to mitigate the economic fallout. Helping businesses to stay afloat temporarily is not the complete answer if it is not coupled with economic initiatives to increase demand for their goods and services.
“In a faltering economy, the only way to ensure the flow of money circulating through the financial system is to generate liquidity in the market to increase consumption and demand which allows businesses to bounce back and create job opportunities,” she said.
Soo observed that exemptions on business licences and permit fees will not drive the battered economy while exemptions on rent and assessment rates have little impact as many Sarawakians still cannot afford to own a property and the same goes to utility discount as many of rural folks still lack water and electricity.
As for the exemption of rental payments of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) operating in business premises owned by Sarawak government-linked companies (GLCs), she questioned as to how many small-time Sarawak businessmen have the luxury of having their business premises on state-owned properties.
“Even if some assistance reaches small businesses which manage to continue operations, how does this help them when there is no demand? Businesses open, and more mosquitoes are seen than customers, and there are no buyers,” she added.
She thus hopes BKSS 6.0 will have something for every Sarawakian to get on with their daily lives, instead of the repeated temporary measures for small businesses and small segments of the population only, which fail to put Sarawak’s economy back on track.
“Put expensive projects on the back burner for now, and deliver the EBI now to benefit each and every Sarawakian,” she urged.
Yesterday Abang Johari had announced BKSS 5.0 which encompassed 11 measures worth RM405 million to help cushion the impact of Covid-19 and various restriction orders on Sarawakians and the business community. -DayakDaily