GPS backbenchers slam Chong over aid claim

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg announcing the BKSS aid package last year – BH photo

THE Gabungan Parti Sarawak backbenchers have denied claims by opposition lawmaker Chong Chieng Jen that the state had not been swift enough in providing aid to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

In a statement today, the GPS Backbenchers Club has also denied the government was delaying the assistance to the needy, until closer to the state elections.

“The state government has been expedient in assisting the people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and have rolled out various assistances catering to different groups through the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) which is worth over RM3.2 billion,” the statement added.

The BKSS included interest-free soft loan for SMEs; special grant of RM1,500 to hawkers and petty traders through Sarawak Pay; abolishment of two per cent interest rates to zero per cent for three and a half years under Micro Credit Scheme as well as waiver for rentals to SMEs in retail sector operating on premises owned by state government-linked companies.

The club said it was wrong for Chong to accuse the state government for not assisting the small businesses.

The club also called on Sarawak DAP not to politicise the issue to score cheap publicity.

“The state government has and will continue to assist small businesses during Covid-19 and we are sure if there is a need for further assistance to be given, it will be rolled out in due time,” it added.

On Thursday, Chong had asked why the state government was now seen to be dragging its feet in helping those hit by Covid-19 compared with the enthusiasm it declared aid when the pandemic first hit last year.

He added that many businesses in the state had been operating at a loss and had dug into their reserves to tide themselves over during the past one year, he added.

“Is the Sarawak State Government running out of fund that it is now standing by looking at the sufferings and hardship of businesses of all sectors and refusing to allocate financial assistance to them?

“Rather, is the State Government keeping the money and waiting for the State Elections to dish them out?” Chong had asked in a statement.

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