KUCHING: Seven measures under the Sarawakku Sayang special aid package will be extended until the end of the year due to the ongoing Covid-19 surge in the country, says Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
The Chief Minister said the extension, aimed at lessening the impact of the pandemic, would cost the state government RM104.84mil in total.
The extended measures include discounts on utility bills, Housing Development Corporation (HDC) 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 worth a total RM2.55bil over the past six months.
It has benefited some 3.08 million recipients in various groups, including frontliners, the B40 group, transport, tourism and business sectors.
Abang Johari also said the state government has set up a committee chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah and State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion to look into the shortage of foreign workers for the construction sector.
He 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 how to resolve this problem. Maybe we have to do reskilling of 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, adding that the state government was willing to invest to assist the sector in procuring machinery for automation.