KUCHING: The concern of the Ministry of Rural Development for housing for the B40 group and the underprivileged as well as entrepreneurs in rural areas such as Lawas is evident through the significant funds allocated for implementing related projects.
Deputy Minister of Rural Development II Datuk Henry Sum Agong said last year, the federal government through the ministry had allocated RM2.1 million for building ten houses under the Hardcore Poor Housing Programme (PPRT) and repairing 100 houses in Lawas.
“Through this programme, the government builds and provide PPRT houses to identified groups through the e-Kasih system and through applications which are reviewed based on eligibility,” he said in a statement today.
He said the allocation for the construction of each house was RM60,000 whereas RM15,000 was allocated per house for repairs, focusing on important housing components such as electrical wiring and repairs of pipes and roofs.
As for village street lights, he said the government had allocated RM435,390 to install them.
“This is part of the ministry’s projects implemented by Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB). A total of 240 village street lights will be installed, of which 93 will be the HPSV model with a cost of RM67,890 while the other 147 units of LED model will involve a cost of RM367,500,” said Henry, who is also Lawas MP.
He also said the provision of assistance to rural entrepreneurs had always been a focus of the government to ensure that the entrepreneurs are able to survive throughout the economic uncertainty brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
For this, through the ministry and its agencies, 10 tahai fishsmoking operators had been approved to receive assistance and equipment for the facilities in Kampung Awat-Awat, Lawas.
“These smoke houses will be equipped with suitable modern equipment for smoking fish. For this purpose, RM100,000 will be allocated to 10 fish smoking operators with each entrepreneur receiving RM10,000,” he said.
He said this initiative would help to increase these entrepreneurs’ incomes and create more jobs in Kampung Awat-Awat.
He said the maritime product processing industry is the main industry in Lawas, with each entrepreneur able to generate up to RM3,000 monthly. He said most products were exported to Brunei and certain towns in Sarawak.
“Aside from this, through the Income Enhancement Programme, the government through KPLB has allocated RM10,000 to 50 fishermen for the purchase of new boat engines and RM10,000 to assist 10 hawkers — involving a total cost of RM600,000 to allow this group to generate income by sourcing sea produce and expanding their businesses to sustain themselves,” he said.
Henry assured that the government would ensure that all these initiatives are monitored and directed to those in need, seeing that the rural community are among those impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Opportunities to increase the income of the rural community will also be given focus and priority by the government to ensure that the rural population can sustain themselves while also opening up more employment opportunities in the rural areas,” he said.