KUCHING, April 10 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today said that the state government will inject, under the Sarawakku Sayang Assistance 2.0, another RM1.1 billion to help the businesses of the small, medium, micro-enterprises, hawkers and petty traders affected by the movement control order (MCO) enforced to curb the spread of Covid-19.
He said that after he announced RM1.15 billion under the first package on March 23 he has received feedback from various business associations and chambers of commerce who have requested the state government consider assistance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), micro-enterprises as well as hawkers and petty traders.
“I am aware that SMEs are key drivers to Sarawak’s economy as they make up over 75 per cent of our business sector, contributing 20 per cent to Sarawak GDP and provide about 600,000 jobs for Sarawakians.
“I know entrepreneurs by definition are people who take risks to set up businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of making profits and they are obviously important drivers to our economy.
“Therefore, I feel it is important for GPS government to be responsive to the problems faced by SMEs, micro-enterprises as well as hawkers and petty traders so that they can remain resilient in the face of economic pressures that are affecting us all,” Abang Johari told reporters after chairing a special State Cabinet meeting here.
“One of the main challenges faced in the business sector is cash flow,” he said.
“I am happy that all of them have provided insights on how Covid-19 has affected their day to day business activities.
“They have voiced that they need government assistance.”
He said that his office, through the state Economic Planning Unit (EPU), has compiled all the requests and data submitted by the respective associations for the State Cabinet to deliberate and make decisions based on the government’s capacities.
Abang Johari also stressed that it is not necessary for the state government to table an additional Supply Bill for all the aid packages that have been announced.
“This is because the funds are already made available via the Contingency Fund as approved by the State Legislative Assembly in the 2020 Budget,” he added.
He also said the state government may consider using parts of the state reserves to fund any extra expenditure should the need arise in the future.
Abang Johari also said the ongoing strategic infrastructure projects and initiatives, such as state water supply grid, coastal roads and bridges, will continue once MCO is lifted.
He said these strategic long-term projects will strengthen and sustain the state’s economic growth.
“I would like to assure that the Sarawak government will continue to be transparent in its spending and all actions taken are based on the provisions of the law and will continue a prudent financial practice and good fiscal discipline to ensure that the State’s financial position remains strong and manageable,” he added.
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