KUCHING: Sarawak will roll out another aid package totalling RM405mil to help the people face the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the latest Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang package, discounts on utility bills, assessment rates and rentals will be extended for a further six months from January to June this year.
The package also includes exemptions on certain fees and licences to assist traders and hotel operators.
"Sarawak is not exempted from the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and on top of that we recently faced floods in several areas.
"So the state government has decided to assist the people as a whole through several measures," Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg told a press conference on Thursday (Jan 21).
He said discounts of 5% to 25% on monthly electricity bills would be extended to 642,000 households statewide from January to June, involving a total cost of RM166.2mil to the state government.
Over 568,000 households will also continue to receive discounts of 10% to 20% on monthly water bills from January to June, which will cost the state government RM31.5mil.
Licensed hawkers will receive a 50% discount on market and stall rentals under local authorities from January to June. They will also be exempted from paying for permits and trading licences.
To assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs), Abang Johari said the repayment of loans under the state's SME soft loan scheme would be deferred for six months from January to June.
He also said the government was conducting a study to determine further measures to assist SMEs.
"As SMEs are facing an uncertain business climate, we have decided to provide financial assistance and loans to help them continue their operations," he said.
Abang Johari also said a one-off exemption on hotel licence fees would be given to hotel operators.
Other measures include a 25% discount on assessment rates above RM400 from January to June, which will benefit 185,000 premises statewide; 30% discount on quit rent for large-scale plantations and commercial and industrial centres; and a one-off deferral of land premium payments for 2021 which will benefit 1,720 landowners.
"We hope this package will help to lighten the people's burden from January to June. We also hope that with the availability of a vaccine, the Covid-19 pandemic can be overcome after June," Abang Johari said.
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