GPS Government told to intervene on shortage of foreign workers too

Jonathan Chai Voon Tok

KUCHING:  Sarawak Business Federation (SBF) has applauded the Sarawak government’s decision to intervene and cushion the impact of rising cost of living by giving a discount on electricity tariff for food producers and retailers.

However, its secretary-general Datuk Jonathan Chai said it was equally important to provide a business friendly environment to allow businesses to stay competitive and be sustainable in such trying times.

Thus, he has appealed to the Sarawak government to also intervene and step up efforts to resolve the long standing issue of foreign workers as the plantation and construction sectors were in dire need of more foreign workers to overcome the acute labour shortage.

“There seems to be some lack of coordination between the state and the federal authorities in handling the matter. Thus, we hope that a one-stop centre involving all relevant governmental agencies could soon be set up to process the applications of work permits.

“The ample supply of workforce is a key factor to revive our economy,” he told New Sarawak Tribune.

He was asked to comment on the Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg’s announcement that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) Government will introduce a discount on electricity tariff for food producers and retailers in the state to help address the rising cost of business operations.

Abang Johari said coffee shops, restaurants as well as the food and beverage industry will enjoy the discount soon.

Chai said it was definitely a welcome relief to the food producers and retailers as such a discount on electricity tariff will definitely help to reduce the cost of doing business in Sarawak.

However, he said, the extent or quantum of discount is yet to be announced and hopefully, it would be substantial enough to make any meaningful difference.

“In addition, we hope that most, if not all, businesses would be able to benefit from such measures as the current inflationary pressure is felt across the board.

Chai pointed out that no business could escape from the devastating impacts of the spike in the cost of doing business and the sudden rise in the inflationary pressure of late.

Among the factors contributing to the rising cost of doing business included the implementation of the revised minimum wage effective this month, the weakening performance of the Ringgit against the USD, the disruption of the supply chain of goods caused by the pandemic and the geopolitical tension as well as the rising freight charges.

Thus, Chai said, it was timely for the Sarawak government to intervene and come up with some concrete measures in the immediate term such as the discount on electricity tariff to alleviate the prevailing inflationary pressure of the businesses and consequently, help to cushion the impact on the rising cost of living.

“In the long run, we need to intensify our efforts and channel our resources to develop our agricultural sector so that we could become a net food exporter as envisaged in the Post-COVID-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030.

“If we could achieve such noble success of self-sufficiency, we would not be unduly affected in future by factors beyond our control such as the shortage of supply in the international market and the fluctuations in the exchange rate.

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