Sim optimistic Sarawak will recover

Sim Kiang Chiok

KUCHING: Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) Kuching chairman Is optimistic about Sarawak’s economy this year.

Datuk Sim Kiang Chiok said the economic situation could not be as bleak as March last year during the first movement control order (MCO) period when  the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dropped by 17.5 percent.

“My belief is that what goes down must come up as in most business cycles. Our government is fine tuning the lockdown so that we will not have such a slowdown again in our economy as we have learned that certain sectors can still function without causing further spikes in infection.

“The government is doing its best to provide all the assistance to us, the people and the business, to ride through this pandemic. With a good exit plan, we can resume and restart our economy at a faster pace than countries that have not shielded their people and assisted in their businesses,” he added.

According to Sim, the government can help more by increasing and providing longer wage subsidies.  Automatic moratorium on bank loans could also save the economy.

“In Sarawak, we have extra incomes from the sales tax on petroleum,  Pan Borneo Highway and ART public transport in Kuching to look forward to. This can help Sarawak’s economy to recover,” he added.

Asked how badly  property markets were affected by the Malaysian high unemployment rate and loss of income, Sim said that there were still several segments of the society such as those  from T20, top M40, and civil servants who still had the ability to take advantage of the investment opportunities with the low interest rates and reducing spending power of the Malaysian currency.

He  stated that the overhang property in Sarawak was still small  — only about 2100 units of various types.

“We cannot totally say the units are expensive as our records also show affordable housing in the list. This means that there are other factors to be considered such as poor locations, unsuitable types, designs, etc.

“In Sarawak, we do not have many bumi reserved units forming part of the overhang like in West Malaysia.

“We know the market is very active now with the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) minimum 10 percent discount and low bank interest. It is cheap to buy now and the market is responding accordingly, when the pricings of the houses are in the correct market affordable range or where the demand is.” he explained.