KUCHING, May 15 — The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) Backbenchers Club today accused Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen of trying to score cheap publicity by claiming that the state government is delaying assistance to the people and small businesses until the state election is near.
It said the state government will continue to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the option of more assistance to be rolled out in the future if needed.
“The state government has been expedient in assisting the people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and has rolled out various forms of assistance catering to different groups through the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) which is worth over RM3.2 billion,” the club said in a statement rebutting Chong’s claims.
It said in the package, the assistance rendered included interest-free soft loans for SMEs; a special grant of RM1,500 to hawkers and petty traders through Sarawak Pay; the abolishment of 2 per cent interest rates to zero per cent for three-and-a-half-years under the Micro Credit Scheme; as well as a rental waiver for SMEs in the retail sector operating from premises owned by state government-linked companies.
“For Chong to accuse the state government of not assisting small businesses, it is simply not the case,” the club said, adding that the state government’s track record speaks for itself.
The club said the state government’s insistence that economic life continue is also reflected in its policies related to the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic through the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC).
It added policies made in terms of imposing movement restrictions have taken into account the hardship faced by the people, especially small businesses, private sector workers, the self-employed and those without fixed income, and allowed them to bounce back from the first movement control order (MCO) last year.
“This is further supported by the decision to not impose a movement control order (MCO) on Sarawak recently, and instead continue with the existing conditional movement control order (CMCO),” the club said.
On May 13, Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa State assemblyman, accused the state government of not looking into the suffering and hardship of businesses across all sectors and refusing to allocate financial assistance to them.
He also asked if the Sarawak government was waiting for the state election to dish out the assistance to them.
He said when the Covid-19 pandemic first broke out in early 2020, help was extended in the form of BKSS (Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang) and since then all sectors, except the e-commerce sector, have taken a hit for a full one-year period.
“Most businesses and petty traders have been operating at a loss or barely survived for the past one year, thereby exhausting their cash reserves and savings,” he said in a statement.
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