2021 Budget is good, says SEDC boss

Mark Ferguson

KUCHING: Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Husain has described Budget 2021 as a good budget.

“It is a very good budget for the country especially as it is fighting the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

He noted that the budget aims to boost the economy while helping the lower income group by allowing those affected by the pandemic to withdraw up to RM10,000 from their Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Account 1.

“I think it would be very good if it could be implemented, and if the government has the fund to implement all the initiatives,” he said.

He also lauded the implementation of initiatives at both state and federal levels in mitigating the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on global air travel.

“Presently many airlines have slipped into the red or operating with minimal fleet and having to charge high fares.”

He said even though the National Economic Action Council had predicted that it would take four years for Malaysia’s tourism industry to recover, there was still hope for the players to woo travellers especially domestically by offering saleable tourism products that were creative and innovative.

“Like many businesses, the Tourism and Hospitality Division (THD) of SEDC is also facing grim prospects because the world has changed and the corporate sector is forced to adapt to the new norms since many things will not continue like it used to be as the markets will continuously be threatened by the pandemic and development of new technologies,” he said.

He noted that SEDC’s hotels occupancy rate had also dropped below 10 percent due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“However, our resorts have benefited in some way from local tourism especially during weekends. We do hope to capitalise on this local tourism after this conditional movement control order (CMCO) is lifted,” he said.

SEDC Tourism and Hospitality Division managing director Mark Ferguson said the pandemic was a blessing in disguise as its gave them the opportunity to relook at the tourism products and develop them so that it could benefit the state’s tourism industry.

He said for instance SEDC had to think of innovative ways to get revenue, to develop packages and tourism products for people to visit SCV as its number of visitors had drastically dropped due to the pandemic.

“Currently, we are developing its herbal and orchard garden and it would take a few months to develop. We are also planting local vegetables around the SCV to help sustain our restaurant here.

“While we expect the return of international travellers soon, we have to focus on domestic travellers in the meantime,” he said.