Sarawak Govt urged to provide wage subsidy and help SMEs

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By Emma Victoria

INSTEAD of spending billions of ringgit to build walls along the Sarawak-Kalimantan border, the state government should use the money to provide wage subsidy for employers, which will also benefit workers.

Sarawak Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary Andrew Lo said this will also increase domestic consumption and sustain businesses in Sarawak.

“Such  grandiose projects including Light Rail Transit (LRT) and second trunk road that only puts money into selected contractors who more often than not park the wealth outside Sarawak. Any job creation (from these projects) will be short-term and for thousands of foreign construction workers,” he said.

Lo said the federal government had failed to provide much needed support to private sector and the Sarawak government should step in to provide wage subsidies to employers in Sarawak to maintain their workers.

“When cash is made available to employers through wage subsidy, workers will also benefit and have money to spend,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Business Federation (SBF) expressed its disappointment with Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) 5.0 as it does not introduce any wage subsidy programme to help SMEs in the state.

Its secretary general Jonathan Chai said the direct financial assistance will definitely help to keep many struggling businesses afloat and save many jobs.

“I personally hope that it would be ideal if our state government could come up with a comprehensive Sarawak version of the wage subsidy programme to help the small and medium businesses,” he said when contacted.

However, Chai said he understood the limitations of the state government.

Yesterday, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Abang Openg announced the BKSS 5.0 worth RM405 million, to ease the financial burden of the people and businesses.

It includes water and electricity discounts and permit and license fees waivers.

Chai said some of the measures have already been put in place previously and the government has now extended it another six months, so that the affected individuals and businesses could obtain extended help.

“But, anyway we are grateful for the prompt response from the state government in coming up with another round of BKSS as any form of financial assistance from the government would be helpful for the people and businesses in this very challenging and difficult time,” he added.

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