Sarawak introduces three measures to help business sector hit hard by Covid-19

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The Darul Hana Bridge in Kuching, July 31, 2021. Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg said this measure will help to ease the financial burden of approximately 40,000 active businesses in Sarawak that would cost the state government direct expenditure of more than RM400 million.  ― Bernama pic
The Darul Hana Bridge in Kuching, July 31, 2021. Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg said this measure will help to ease the financial burden of approximately 40,000 active businesses in Sarawak that would cost the state government direct expenditure of more than RM400 million. ― Bernama pic

KUCHING, Aug 4 — Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today outlined three measures to help the business sector during the National Recovery Plan (NRP) under the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang 7.0 (BKSS 7.0) special aid package.

He said these measures were discussed at length during the State Cabinet meeting this morning.

He said under the first measure, the government would provide special one-off financial assistance of RM10,000 to active businesses registered in Sarawak with the Social Security Organisation (Socso) as of December 31, 2020.

“I have received requests from business associations and federations for financial assistance to sustain their businesses, particularly to cover their operational cost, including rental and employee wages, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs),” he said at a press conference.

Abang Johari said this measure will help to ease the financial burden of approximately 40,000 active businesses in Sarawak that would cost the state government direct expenditure of more than RM400 million.

He added this special financial assistance will be paid in two tranches — RM5,000 in September and another RM5,000 in December.

The chief minister said in order to support businesses in the construction sector, the Sarawak government would ease the government procurement policy due to pandemic Covid-19 by, among others, granting automatic Extension of Time (EOT) as a direct consequence of MCO 3.0 based on actual granted gazetted MCO 3.0 period for on-going projects with completion date not within the MCO 3.0 period.

He said projects with scheduled completion dates expiring within the MCO 3.0 period would be granted EOT of maximum 60 days.

He added in view of the EOT, Liquidated and Ascertained Damages (LAD) already imposed would be waived during the gazetted MCO period.

Abang Johari also said payment valuations and assessments would be automatically carried out at the end of every month without having to wait for contractors’ written detailed applications for payment claims and to allow a minimum interim payment of RM1,000 per month for all state contracts.

He said the state government would also allow payment to Consultants’ Site Supervision Teams during any MCO period subject to the terms and conditions to be determined subsequently; and to allow Variation of Price for government work contracts because of the surge in prices for certain of construction materials due to the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the Sarawak government is estimated to bear the cost of approximately of RM400 million for allowing the variation of price.

He said in view of the need to ensure economic resilience during pandemic, the state government would support businesses that require foreign workers for their business operations through a relaxation of employment permit renewals.

“As such, the renewal of employment permits with the validity of a labour licence for the plantation sector until December 31, 2022 during Covid-19 will be extended to all sectors, such as agriculture, mining, construction and services,” he stressed.

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