Sarawak DAP chief urges state govt to use reserves fund to help small businesses hit by Covid-19

Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen urged the state government to allocate 10 per cent of the state’s reserve to help the business sector. — Borneo Post Online pic

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KUCHING, May 13 — The Sarawak DAP today urged the statement to utilise certain percentage of the state’s reserve fund to help the business sectors to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its chairman Chong Chieng Jen said while he acknowledges the need to enforce the conditional movement control order (CMCO) to curb the pandemic, the state government should still look into the sufferings of the business sector and the people economically.

“The state government only needs to allocate 10 per cent of the state’s reserve to help the business sector at this difficult time,” he said in a statement this evening.

The Stampin MP suggested that the state government allocates RM1,500 in cash handout to every hawker and petty trader in Sarawak and RM500 million interest-free loans to be given to SMEs in Sarawak.

He also said a RM100 million grant should be given to SMEs in the state for transformation into e-commerce and digitalisation and a 50 per cent wage subsidy be given to SMEs for three months to maintain their workforce.

Chong also proposed that direct assistance grant be given to those sectors which have been ordered to close operation and those in the tourism sector.

“We urge the state government to put the people’s interest at its heart. This is the time to help the people and there is no point for the state government to keep saying that Sarawak is rich and has a lot of reserves but such riches are not utilised to help the people at such time of difficulty,” he stressed.

He said though such financial assistance may not be able to fully cushion the economic impact of the pandemic, it will surely help to lessen the suffering of the people to a certain extent.

“Since then, all sectors, except the e-commerce sector, have taken the hit for a full one-year period,” he said, adding that most businesses and petty traders had been operating at a loss or barely survived for the past one year and have exhausted their cash reserves and savings.

“The people and businesses are in more need of cash assistance now than one year ago, and yet the state government still obstinately refuses to allocate funds for financial assistance to the hawkers, small traders, businesses, and the SMEs,” he said.