Here’s to a quick economic recovery
By:Tania Lam
Date:
KCH-sim reflections-2812-tl (year-end stories) (p)

KUCHING: Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers Association (Sheda) Kuching branch chairman Datuk Sim Kiang Chiok’s hope for the upcoming new year is that the natural business cycle will come about soon after the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic.

He opined that next year’s economic and business outlook for Sarawak and Malaysia was that there would be much improvement from the worst Covid-19 lockdown, whereby the gross domestic product (GDP) saw a 17.5 per cent drop for the second quarter of the year.

He noted that other major countries had started Covid-19 vaccinations on their citizens and that Malaysia could expect its Covid-19 vaccines to arrive in February next year.

Pointing out that some major economic power states in Malaysia were currently experiencing the third wave of Covid-19 infections, he said this affected the nation’s economic recovery.

He added that businesses operating under standard operating procedures would involve more cost and time, with reduced productivity.

Reflecting on this year, Sim said the state government’s Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance had been a great help to all Sarawakians, alongside the federal government’s Prihatin package.

“We have not seen many business failures, no high unemployment, or increase in crime in our state. This shows that the government is on the right track in assisting us in riding through this pandemic.”

He also commended the state government for successfully restoring Sarawak’s autonomous right to impose State Sales Tax on petroleum products, having collected an estimated RM3 billion for last year and signing a Commercial Settlement Agreement with Petronas.

He added that the state government was also catching up with infrastructure, telecommunications, and agriculture to modernise Sarawak’s productive industries, including encouraging the digital economy in Sarawak.

“With such excellent prospects, our property industry will experience a positive effect as demand will rise due to population growth and investments into Sarawak, raising income and wealth for our citizens.”

However, he said the property sector was still recovering and restoring to the pre Covid-19 level of supply and demand, adding that this sector’s growth was very much controlled by the banks and industry players’ ability to produce houses to match demand.

“It is also tied to the banks’ appetite to lend out to house buyers and developers. We need to reduce compliance cost, increase productivity to control prices of houses, and the income of potential house buyers needs to increase with the eventual rising cost of living.”

He said businesses still needed assistance to ride through the pandemic period, calling for six more months of blanket bank moratorium, wage assistance until June next year, and income tax reductions for this year to help all businesses and Malaysians.

“We hope the Real Property Gains Tax after five years can be removed, our improved Sarawak-Malaysia My Second Home programme promoted, My First Home Deposit restored, easier bank housing loan with staggered repayment and longer repayment period, and banks should be permitted by Bank Negara Malaysia to lend based on assets rather than just ability to pay.”

In Kuching, he hoped the Autonomous Rail Transit public transport system would be implemented as scheduled and that the Pan Borneo Highway would be completed soon without further delay.

Sim pointed out that next year would also see the Sarawak State Election taking place.

“One of the considerations of a good business environment is political stability. My hope is that we would vote a strong government with good leadership.”

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