KUCHING: Sarawak Business Federation (SBF) secretary-general Datuk Jonathan Chai Voon Tok is grateful to the state government for the Business Recovery Assistance Fund which was announced under the 2022 State Budget.
He said this was a one-off special grant of RM20 million which would assist SBF and its 15 affiliates to organise capacity building and enterprise development programmes for their members.
“The initiative also signifies an invaluable and meaningful recognition accorded to SBF to play a greater role in developing our state economy as an apex organisation representing all the major chambers of commerce, trade guilds, and the business community in Sarawak,” he said when contacted on Wednesday (Oct 13).
Chai also thanked the state government for introducing yet another aid package through the Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance (BKSS) 8.0 package worth RM285.47 million.
He noted that BKSS 8.0 involved the implementation of various incentives and welfare assistance particularly to benefit the micro enterprises, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and vulnerable and disadvantaged segments of the society.
“These aid measures, especially the discounts on the water and electricity bills for the first six months of next year, will continue to benefit all the households in this challenging time,” he said.
Chai described the recently announced 2022 State Budget as versatile in nature as it focused primarily on continuing to protect and restore the lives and livelihoods of the people and businesses in the midst of the pandemic.
“With the expected Ordinary Expenditure of RM10.646 billion, the 2022 State Budget will probably be the largest state budget provided by any state in the country,” he said.
Chai added another positive aspect of the Budget was that over 60 percent of the total budget would be utilised for development expenditure.
“It will serve as a catalyst instrumental for economic growth as it will enable the private sector to participate in the development projects to be implemented by the government,” he said.
“It is critical at this juncture, given the devastating impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic to the state economy and the livelihood of the rakyat, that the state government embarks on a fiscal expansionary policy to boost productivity and revive the economy even at an expected deficit of RM 610 million,” he said.
Chai noted that apart from its commitment to build more affordable houses next year, the state government would also introduce a new assistance scheme next year – the Housing Deposit Assistance Scheme – which would benefit about 1,200 home buyers.
“Indeed, we are grateful that a reasonable quantum in the sum of RM131 million will be provided in the 2022 State Budget for tourism development, promotion and cultural heritage,” said Chai, who is also Kuching Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCGCCI) secretary-general.
“Not only that tourism has been hard hit by the pandemic over the last couple of years, it’s high time for more funding to be set aside for the development of this sector as Sarawak has the potential to be turned into a favourite tourist destination especially for ecotourism,” he added.