Sarawak’s industrial sector expansion via RM140.3 mil allocation

Abang Johari reading the Supply (2021) Bill, 2020 at the DUN sitting in Kuching today (Nov 9, 2020). Screenshot taken from the Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas) livestream of DUN proceedings.

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Nov 9:  Efforts to diversify Sarawak’s industrial sector will be intensified with an allocation of RM140.3 million in Sarawak Budget 2021.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the intensification will be done through deepening and strengthening the value chains in oil and gas, energy intensive, high-tech, food, and shipbuilding, alongside the traditional timber-based, oil palm-based, and other manufacturing activities.

“The State government will continue to develop industrial parks and business premises to attract both Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Domestic Direct Investment (DDI),” said Abang Johari when tabling Sarawak Budget 2021 at Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex here today.

In this regard, he said, a sum of RM88.3 million will be provided to implement or expand Demak Laut Industrial Park, Samalaju SME Cluster; and industrial estates in Sibu, Sematan, Betong, Sri Aman, Bau, Marudi, and Rantau Panjang, Sibu.

The Sarawak government also took note of the difficulties and challenges faced by local entrepreneurs especially those from the small, medium and micro enterprises. In tandem with this, the State government has implemented various initiatives which include setting up of innovation hubs.

“Currently, there are seven operating innovation hubs that provide mentorship, support, guidance, and innovation-focused entrepreneurial programs to Sarawakians start-ups and SMEs across the State.

“These facilities have benefitted more than 50,000 entrepreneurs and innovators, from students to adults. This initiative would require a sum of RM18.0 million,” said Abang Johari who is also Sarawak Finance Minister.

On SME and entrepreneurship programmes, he said the Sarawak Government will continue to encourage more people to venture into business activities as this will not only help to uplift their socio-economic wellbeing but also spur the growth of the local economy.

“With an allocation of RM11.0 million in 2020, various entrepreneurship programmes are being implemented that benefit more than 12,500 entrepreneurs.

“The State Government will also implement SME Digitalization Packages to assist the local enterprises to become more competitive, while operating in the ‘new normal’ and today’s challenging business environment.

“A total of RM10.0 million is proposed next year for the implementation of the programme that will benefit more than 1,000 entrepreneurs,” said Abang Johari.

Apart from the entrepreneurship skill programme, Sarawak also continues to construct new Anjung Usahawan in other part of Sarawak including Telok Melano in Lundu, Gedong, Limbang and Lawas.

Anjung Usahawan is a one-stop centre that serves as a platform for budding entrepreneurs to develop and thrive. A sum of RM19.2 million will be provided next year for this purpose.

In facilitating the recovery of businesses and SMEs that have been severely hit by the pandemic, Abang Johari said the following measures will be continued to be implemented.

First of all, the Sarawak Micro Credit Scheme will provide financial assistance to entrepreneurs for their business expansion and diversification.

“This initiative has been implemented beginning this year with an allocation of RM37.0 million. Under the 2021 Budget, another RM50.0 million will be provided for this scheme.”

He said there is also Special Relief Fund (Interest Subsidy) scheme where the SMEs will enjoy interest free loans over three and a half years.

“This year, a sum of RM17.3 million is expected to be disbursed to the participating banks while under the 2021 Budget, RM19.0 million will be allocated. This scheme is expected to benefit more than 40,000 SMEs throughout Sarawak. — DayakDaily