RM1.5 billion spent on BKSS in three months

KUCHING: The Sarawak government had spent RM1,451.99 million on three phases of the Sarawakku Sayang Special Aid (BKSS) 2020 programme as at the end of last June to help people in the state who had been economically affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in a statement today said that so far, RM745.612 million had been paid out in cash under the programme with another RM153.96 million to be disbursed by the end of this month to B40 households and B40 single Sarawakians who were not previously listed to get the BKSS 2020.

“The Sarawak government (has) opened (up avenues) for appeals from both the eligible B40 households and B40 singles (whose names were originally not listed for the BKSS 2020) which was closed (for submission) on May 31 (this year),” it said in a statement.

The state government made the decision to allow the appeal process as it had received a lot of complaints from those who claimed to be eligible for the BKSS 2020 but their names were not in the list, as well as requests from single Sarawakians for assistance due to the pandemic.

“On June 19, we (eventually) received the bantuan sara hidup (BSH) 2020 list from the Inland revenue board (LHDN) of 369,139 eligible B40 households and 419,395 eligible single Sarawakians (for the aid),” it said.

The CMO said as of today, the BKSS 2020 cash payment incentives had been given to 29,464 frontline personnel, 15,829 hawkers, 149 operators of penambang (long boats serving riverine travellers in Kuching City), 840 taxi drivers, and 236 licenced tourist and park guides.

The Sarawak government announced the first phase of the assistance, BKSS 1.0, on March 23 which outlined 16 measures of assistance, followed by four additional measures under BKSS 2.0 on April 10 and eight more under BKSS 3.0 on May 8.

It said the main objectives of BKSS 2020 were to address societal needs, as well as industry needs across all levels of society and scale of business entities during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

The measures employed to meet these objectives included cash handouts, low loan repayment and deferment, soft loans for small and medium enterprises, monthly incentives for frontline personnel and discounts on utility bills for consumers in Sarawak. – Bernama