By BENNY ATOK
THE Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government has spent a total of RM6.7 billion for the Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance (BKSS) packages for Sarawakians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020.
During the two-year period, there were nine assistance packages since BKSS 1.0 was implemented on March 23, 2020 until BKSS 9.0 on August 29 thisyear. There were various aids implemented in reducing the effects of the pandemic channeled through the special assistance packages.
Among the aids provided were subsidised electricity and water supplies, house tax, premises rentals, housing loan repayments, cash assistance and initiatives to help control the price of building materials.
“When Sarawak was facing the COVID-19 pandemic, the state government was very sympathetic and understood the difficulties faced by the people.
“The implementation of the movement control order (MCO) has caused many businesses, big or small, to shut down. This caused great difficulties and many people had lost their jobs and their incomes as well.
“Thus, to lessen the burden of the people, small businesses, small and medium industries, the GPS government decided to come up with the BKSS assistance package,” said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
Abang Johari said this in his speech during the 86th birthday celebration of the Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at Stadium Miri, on Oct 8.
During the challenging period of the pandemic, he said that Sarawak was lucky to have a stable financial status which enables the government to channel various aids to Sarawakians besides assistance from the Federal government.
Also, the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) was able operate during the pandemic thanks to an allocation RM300 million from the state government.
“The state government have also spent RM260 million to pay for the cost for quarantine at hotels while ensuring hotels are operational and not laying off their employees,” he said.