KUCHING: The Sarawak government received RM6.8 billion from the State Sales Tax (SST) on petroleum products for the period from 2019 to September this year.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said that with more revenue, the state has the capacity to implement the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) assistance packages to absorb the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular its impact on the people, small traders and small and medium industries.
“Also, despite the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) having contracted between six and seven percent last year due to Covid-19 pandemic, there is some relief as the state’s revenue increased from RM6 billion to RM10 billion.
“This is because of the creative measures to implement the revenue re-engineering which has given a considerable return to the state’s economy,” he said during a state banquet in conjunction with the 85th birthday celebration of Head of State Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) tonight (Oct 9).
He added the state government faced each of the challenges with fortitude and perseverance as well as hard work to formulate strategies to protect the lives of the people and defend the economy to ensure Sarawak can go through the tough challenges with more confidence.
“As a measure to reduce the effects of the pandemic, the government has implemented seven aid packages, coupled with the largest budget in the state’s history, that is the 2021 Budget worth RM10.1 billion.
“The measures involving these financial assistance and injections are to ensure that every layer of our society is protected, to support business viability and to ensure that our economy continues to survive despite the severe impact of Covid-19,” he said.
He said the seven aid packages, namely BKSS 1.0 to 7.0 with 30 programmes and initiatives have involved an expenditure of RM 5.30 billion since the Covid-19 outbreak.
“This is one of the largest aid packages by a state government in Malaysia. And this does not include the special allocation of more than RM91 million to the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) to cover expenses to address the pandemic,” he said.
Such expenses, he said, included vaccine-related logistics costs, increasing the capacity of health and medical equipment as well as ICU wards, payment for the use of the hotel as a quarantine centre, as well as expenses for the food basket supply programme.
Meanwhile, the highlight of tonight’s celebration was the cutting of the birthday cake by Taib. The celebration was then followed by dance, song, and musical performances, including a special video presentation entitled ‘Abdul Taib Mahmud: The Untold Story Part Two’.
Also present were Taib’s wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Ragad Kurdi Taib; Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Native Laws and Customs) Datuk John Sikie Tayai, who was representing Utilities Minister and minister in charge of the Taib’s birthday celebration, Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom; State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar, state ministers and assistant ministers and local dignitaries.