Soo: RM500 is too little but not too late

Lina Soo

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KUCHING, Oct 19: Aspirasi asserts that the call by SUPP to give a one-off payment of RM500 to every Sarawakian is too little but not too late.

Sarawak People’s Aspiration Party (Aspirasi) president Lina Soo noted that during the Movement Control Order (MCO) which was imposed in March this year, Aspirasi had already proposed for an Emergency Basic Income (EBI) of RM500 every month for six months for all adult Sarawakians to cushion the impact of Covid-19 upon people’s livelihoods.

She stressed that this cash plan must be unconditional and expedited on the urgency for speed, efficiency and efficacy.

According to Soo, the EBI package would have cost RM1 billion but its impact upon Sarawakians who had fallen on hard times such as daily paid workers, labourers, farmers, retrenched staff, unemployed school leavers, jobless graduates and the self-employed would have alleviated not just the devastation to their livelihoods but also stimulated economic recovery with increased money supply.

“What I find amazing is why it is so difficult for Dr Sim (Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian) to propose a one-off initiative for RM500 for the people which he has to beg from the Sarawak government.

“SUPP is part of the ruling coalition of GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) which has a two-thirds majority in DUN (Sarawak Legislative Assembly). If SUPP’s proposal has merits, there should be no obstacle to implementation of a good government policy, or is his proposal merely fishing for votes?” Soo questioned.

Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) president Dr Sim had proposed to the state government to release a one-off payment of RM500 to all Sarawakians. It was one of six resolutions reached during the just concluded SUPP Convention 2020.

Soo opined SUPP should adopt Aspirasi’s manifesto based on the Universal Basic Income (UBI) concept where every Sarawakian above 18 years of age will receive RM500 every month.

“UBI is a basic income system expedient for an economy which has no social welfare programmes to speak of, unlike wealthy advanced nations who have a plethora of welfare schemes for its disadvantaged citizens,” she added.

She asserted UBI can be funded by raising the Sarawak petroleum sales tax from five to 30 per cent where based on her calculations, implementing UBI per year would cost RM10 billion and an increased sales tax of 30 per cent could bring RM20 billion per annum at today’s depressed oil price.

“Why cant the Sarawak government impose a petroleum sales tax of 30 per cent when the federal government has already been collecting Petroleum Sales Tax (PITA) of 38 per cent to 45 per cent, apart from collecting royalty, dividends and other taxes?” Soo queried.

Soo recalled the words of former Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) chairman Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who according to Soo, recently admitted on video that for more than 30 years, Petronas gave RM40 billion annually to UMNO.

“Why cant we give the revenue from our Sarawak oil and gas to our people instead of giving so much to Petronas who surrenders billions to the federal government and Umno (United Malays National Organisation) every year?

“Our Sarawak government has two-thirds majority in DUN (Sarawak Legislative Assembly) so it is easy to take constitutional and legislative actions to recover our continental shelf, oil and gas (rights). Our Sarawak politicians lack political will and fail the people to protect Sarawak territorial and sovereignty rights, in pursuit of their own interests,” alleged Soo. — DayakDaily