KUCHING: Through the 2022 State Budget, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has once again shown he is a capable leader who cares for all Sarawakians.
“He deserves our support to lead us through this pandemic to a better future in which no Sarawakian will be left behind,” said Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Stakan branch chairman Datuk Sim Kiang Chiok on Wednesday (Oct 13).
“SUPP Stakan branch is happy that our chief minister continues have an expansionary and deficit Budget to overcome the pandemic so that our lives and livelihoods are being assisted to pull through in this trying time,” he said.
Sim said the expected high revenue of RM10.036 billion for next year was assisted by the state’s autonomous right of imposing the State Sales Tax, which was rightly activated by the chief minister towards oil and gas producers.
“The Budget expenditure has increased from RM9.83 billion in 2021 to RM10.646 billion for 2022, against revenue of RM10.01 billion in 2021 and RM10.036 billion in 2022, showing that our state government under our chief minister is consistent and sincere in helping to overcome the pandemic that has affected the socio-economic circumstances and welfare of our people,” he said.
He also said the continuation of assistance under the Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance (BKSS) 8.0 package for six more months of next year as well as one-off financial assistance were very caring moves by the government.
Sim, who is also Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) Kuching branch chairman, said the various assistance measures provided under BKSS 8.0 were most welcome, as they were much needed when incomes were not expected to recover to pre Covid-19 levels until the end of next year or even until 2023.
“The continuation of the welfare benefits shows that our state government has not neglected the underprivileged, vulnerable and the sick, with initiatives such as newborn incentive, post-natal assistance, early childhood and care institutions, Kenyalang Gold Card and so on,” he added.
He said the vital key for the economy to move and grow was recapitalising businesses, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and micro enterprises, as they were running out of their own resources.
“With the expected resumption of our economy from the disruptions of the various lockdowns, our state government is right to assist our businesses, SMEs and micro businesses through the implementation of interest subsidy schemes under Special Relief Facility, Targeted Relief and Recovery Facility, and Penjana Tourism Financing with an allocation of RM25.1 million.
“On top of this, there is another RM24.5 million for entrepreneurship programmes, Sarawak Micro Credit Scheme, Small and Medium Industries Loan Scheme, Go Digital Programme and Digital Marketing Training,” he said.
He added that these allocations were on top of federal assistance to SMEs and businesses, which would give Sarawak businesses and SMEs the best chance to weather and ride out the pandemic.
He noted that in the 2022 State Budget, the affordable housing sector was also being assisted through various initiatives, including Sarawak Rental Assistance Scheme, provision of loan assistance to low- and middle-income group home buyers, and so on. He pointed out that the new Housing Deposit Assistance Scheme would also benefit home buyers.
“This Budget is being made under Section 11 of Emergency (Essential Orders) (Sarawak) Ordinance 2021 (EO) and our chief minister is being empowered by the EO to approve it.
“However, our chief minister, being fair and transparent, has shared this Budget with other assemblymen in the meeting for their information and feedback in which they subsequently agreed to the State Budget,” he said.