Publish results of RM5.3b Covid-19 aid, Sarawak told

PSB president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said the state government at this juncture should focus on helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that form the backbone of the economy. ― Bernama pic
PSB president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said the state government at this juncture should focus on helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that form the backbone of the economy. ― Bernama pic

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KUCHING, Oct 13 — Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) asked the state government today to make public the actual outcome and results of the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang’s (BKSS) special aid packages to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

PSB president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said the state government must now make an effort to analyse and assess whether the resources committed were effective and quantify how the government has been able to help the state’s residents and economy.

He noted that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg had said a sum of RM5.3 billion was allocated under BKSS 1.0 to 7.0 involving 30 measures that have been implemented to protect people’s lives and revive the economy amidst the ravaging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The government must further assess whether we have helped to stabilise our economy, to save businesses, to save jobs and to protect livelihood,” Wong, who is also a former second state minister of finance, said when commenting on the state Budget 2022 announced by the chief minister yesterday.

He said a sum of RM 285.47 million set aside for BKSS 8.0 for next year under the state Budget was below expectations.

Wong said the state government at this juncture should focus on helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that form the backbone of the economy.

He added they should be assisted through direct financial support packages or incentives to help them to tide over the difficult recovery period.

Wong also questioned the decline in the interest income derived from the state reserve fund deposited with commercial banks and the state-owned Development Bank of Sarawak (DBoS).

He said between 2017 and 2020, the interest income was over RM1 billion but this declined to RM822 million this year and estimated RM721 million next year.

“The state government ought to come out with an explanation as to why there is such a decline in the Interest Income in the two years of 2021 and 2022.

“The decrease in our interest income for the year 2021 and 2022 can only be attributed to either the low interest rates offered by the banks or reduction in our reserve fund,” he said.

“We must therefore guard our reserves jealously because they are our rainy-day fund and they are there to make sure that we can remain financially autonomous,” he said.

He urged the state government to enlighten the people on the big reduction of the interest income for years 2021 and 2022 as they appear in the state budgets.

“We are of the opinion that money transferred to the DBoS from our reserve fund can no longer be treated as part of our reserve fund.

“Money deposited with DBoS is normally expended as loans given to projects. With commercial banks, we can recall our deposits placed with them upon short notice whereas we are in no position to do the same with DBoS,” he stressed.

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