Panel to resolve shortage of foreign worker problem


Abang Johari announcing an extension of the Sarawakku Sayang special aid package.

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has set up a committee to look into the shortage of foreign workers that is affecting the state’s construction sector, says Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The Chief Minister said Sarawak’s strict entry requirements to manage Covid-19 had led to a shortage of about 5,000 workers for the sector.

“The committee will look into ways to resolve this problem. Maybe we have to reskill local workers so that they can be involved in the construction sector.

“The other option is to apply technology or robotics to automate certain jobs, ” he said when announcing an extension of the Sarawakku Sayang special aid package here.

Abang Johari said the state government was willing to invest to assist the sector in procuring machinery for automation.

“This is one of the solutions we can look into, ” he said.

On the special aid package, he said seven measures would be extended until December with a total cost of RM104.84mil to lessen the impact of the ongoing pandemic.

The extended measures included discounts on utility bills, Housing Development Corporation rental discounts for tenants, 50% discounts for rental of markets and stalls, waiver of permits and licence fees for traders, hawkers and tamu (market) operators and rental waivers for retail SMEs operating in premises owned by state government-linked companies.

In addition, one-off financial assistance for the transport sector will be extended to e-hailing drivers and driving instructors.

Abang Johari said this RM500 one-off assistance would benefit 2,396 e-hailing drivers and 791 driving instructors in Sarawak.

He said domestic, commercial and industrial consumers would continue to be given discounts of 5% to 25% on their monthly electricity bills and 10% to 25% on monthly water bills from October to December.

The electricity bill discounts will benefit 686,847 consumers statewide, with the cumulative cost of RM83.4mil to be borne by the state government.

A total of 568,247 consumers will benefit from the water bill discounts, which will cost the state government RM12.6mil.

“Basically, we are extending the assistance until December to ease the people’s burden and provide relief to those affected by the pandemic, ” Abang Johari said.

First announced in March, the Sarawakku Sayang assistance has been implemented in three packages totalling RM2.55bil over the past six months.

It has benefitted some 3.08 million recipients in various groups, including frontliners, the B40 group as well as transport, tourism and business sectors.

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