M40 and SMEs again left out of BKSS, says rep

By Chew Lip Song

THE M40 group and the small and medium enterprises have again been sidelined from the RM1.4 billion Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) 6.0 announced yesterday, Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang said.

She added that the M40 group made up at least 40 per cent of the state’s population and often had huge financial obligations like hire-purchase and housing loans and house rentals but this ergment did not receive much direct financial aid as announced by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg yesterday.

“Even though the loans and hire-purchase from banks and financial institutions are under the purview of the Federal Government, the State government can help by give a special grant to Sarawakians in the M40 group who have these debt obligations,” Chang added in a statement.

She also expressed disappointment over SMEs being left out of BKSS 6.0 despite repeated calls for the state government to help the sector during this difficult period.

With Sarawak’s huge reserve, Chang added that the state government could work out a co-sharing of rental arrangement between landlords and tenants. The rental relief announced by the state government earlier tenants operating from government-linked companies (GLCs) in Sarawak would only help a small fraction of the business population in the state.

“The government should not ignore the majority of the SMEs who have been operating in premises owned by
private landlords. Assistance should be given to these tenants as this will ensure the continued viability of the rental and property market.

“Many other countries including Singapore, Canada and even Thailand are coming up with various rental relief for their SMEs. With a huge state reserve, there is no reason therefore why Sarawak cannot do the same for our own people,” she said, adding that a comprehensive state wage-subsidy programme should also be drawn up to
ensure SMEs continue paying their employees’ wages.

The BKSS 6.0 announced yesterday covers 15 measures, of which nine are cash handouts while another six are discounts and incentives.

All B40 household heads will receive RM250 per month for 6 months and a RM500 one-off payment for B40 single Sarawakians, aged 21 and above.

All healthcare workers under the health department will receive RM300 per month, for six months.