Sarawak govt urged to provide wage subsidy, rental relief to SMEs

Irene Chang

By Chew Lip Song

A SARAWAK lawmaker has asked the state government to offer 50 per cent wage subsidy to eligible small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for six months to help employers retain staff amid an expected slump following stricter Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang said the subsidy should be on top of the similar incentive announced by  the Federal government recently, which was not enough for employers to retain their workforce.

She also called on the state government to grant a 30 per cent rental relief to eligible SMEs renting commercial, industrial and office properties for at least six months.

But for businesses that are not allowed to resume operations, such as spas, gymnasiums, reflexology centres, pubs and karaoke joints, the rental subsidy should be for 70 per cent for six months, the DAP lawmaker added.

“I urge the state government to urgently help our small businesses and to stimulate our state economy as the longer the economic impact from Covid-19 continues, the more risk these sectors would face.

“This in turn would lead to the collapse of our state economy as SMEs are the backbone of our economy,” Chang said in a statement.

She added that the Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance 5.0 package rolled out by the State government in February this year was not adequate to help the to help the SMEs pay the salaries of their employees and the rentals of their premises.

Because of this, Chang said a lot of local SMEs had closed down with many employees having lost their jobs.

“Many employers have to let go of their rented premises as they cannot keep up with their rentals. For those who are still desperately hanging on, they are on the verge of closing down as they lack the sufficient cash reserves and find it increasingly difficult to survive without any government support.”