By Chew Lip Song
THE Sarawak government should act now to cushion the economic impact from the Covid-19 outbreak, and not until workers are laid off and companies shut down, state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen said.
He said since the outbreak, the tourism sector had been badly hit, with the spillover effect being felt across the food and beverages, wholesale and retail sectors.
“Not a single sector of the economy in the State is not adversely affected by the pandemic. Without any government’s help in paying the wages of the employees, many companies will start retrenching their workers in the next 3 months and more will close down in the next 6 months,” Chong, who is also Stampin Member of Parliament posted on Facebook.
Due to this, he said it was most “senseless and arrogant” for Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah to brush aside DAP’s earlier proposal for the state to subsidise half the salaries of workers in the small and medium enterprises for the next six months.
“My piece of advise to Abdul Karim, don’t wait till people getting retrenched and companies starting to shut down before the Government starts to act,” Chong added.
Chong said the state government should table a supplementary supply bill for the RM1.15 billion stimulus package announced by the Chief Minister and a further RM5 billion to help the SMEs pay 50% of their employees’ wages to help businesses in Sarawak to sustain in this economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The state assembly is scheduled to sit on Apr 16.
“DAP will support the motion for the supply bill in the event that such bill is tabled in DUN sitting. It is proper financial procedure that before any money is taken out of the consolidated fund for government to spend, it must first be approved by the DUN,” Chong said.