Sarawak allocates RM1.15 billion to mitigate impact of COVID-19

Sarawak has allocated RM1.15 billion through a special aid package named ‘Pakej Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang’ to mitigate the economic slowdown and reduce the people’s hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said today the funds would be disbursed through 16 proactive measures, particularly for front line personnel, households and business communities who need the most support at this time.

“These are proactive measures taken by GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) for the well-being of Sarawakians,” he told the media at a press conference at Wisma Bapa Malaysia, the state administrative centre here.

The measures include five to 25 per cent discounts on monthly electricity bills for domestic, commercial and industrial consumers, for the period between April and September this year, benefiting 686,847 users throughout Sarawak.

Also provided during the same period are discounts of between 10 and 25 per cent, for the monthly water bills of domestic, commercial and industrial consumers – these will benefit 568,247 consumers throughout the State.

Abang Johari also announced a RM300 special monthly incentive for six months effective April, for 6,232 medical doctors, nurses and other medical personnel who have been working tirelessly in hospitals and clinics throughout Sarawak.

A RM200 special monthly incentive will be given during the same period, to immigration department personnel numbering 535 individuals who are manning entry points throughout the state; 3,395 policemen and state operations room staff, 590 armed forces officers and other staff members, and 590 RELA members.

“A 50 per cent discount on rent for market trading space and stalls, covering a period of six months up to September 2020, is expected to benefit more than 10,000 hawkers, particularly those under the purview of the local councils,” he said.

The state government will also provide a waiver on permit and licence fees for traders and hawkers at night markets, ‘tamu’ (wet markets) and Ramadan bazaars, besides offering a 25 per cent discount on annual assessment bills amounting to RM400 and above, for residential, commercial, industrial and special purpose holdings for the year 2020.

“As a measure to help the SMEs (small and medium enterprises) with their cash flows and to lessen their financial burdens, the Sarawak Government has decided to defer loan repayments for nine months, effective from April 2020,” the Chief Minister said.

Abang Johari said the Sarawak government had ordered two million face masks which would be distributed to the people through the State Disaster Management Committee. The government is also acquiring personal protective equipment (PPEs), food and other supplies for the front liners involved in testing, diagnosing and treating patients for COVID-19.

Other measures that he announced included an additional RM20 million micro credit scheme for SMEs to expand and sustain their businesses, 30 per cent discount on land rent, deferment of land premiums for this year, a waiver of hotel licence fees for hotels and lodging houses, and a 50 per cent discount over a six-month period for beneficiaries of the state Housing Development Corporation’s rented house scheme.

“This ‘Pakej Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang’ is a balanced people and business-centric model to cushion the impact of the economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The GPS government shares the pain of the rakyat during this trying time … we do not know when the pandemic will end but let us get through this together,” he added.