KUCHING: Sarawak has approved a budget of over RM10bil for 2022 to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and accelerate economic recovery and growth.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the budget would focus on protecting and restoring the lives and livelihoods of the people and businesses as one of its strategic thrusts.
"We are providing a lot of allocations to assist the rakyat in these difficult times, as well as programmes which will help them as they face the impact of the pandemic," he told a press conference after presenting the budget to assemblymen in a special meeting at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching on Tuesday (Oct 12).
Abang Johari said the budget was expected to register a deficit of RM610mil based on projected revenue of RM10.036bil and estimated expenditure of RM10.646bil.
Of the total expenditure, RM6.6bil will be allocated for development and RM4.046 for operating expenditure.
The budget was approved by the state Cabinet on Monday (Oct 11) in line with Section 11 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) (Sarawak) Ordinance 2021, which provides that any expenditure or withdrawal from the state's consolidated fund may be made with the approval of the Chief Minister or state financial authority for as long as the Emergency is in force.
Sarawak is currently under a localised Emergency from Aug 2 to Feb 2, 2022, which was proclaimed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to suspend the state election and prevent a further spread of Covid-19.
The state legislative assembly is also prohibited from sitting under Section 4 of the Emergency Ordinance.
Abang Johari said the state budget would include a new housing deposit assistance scheme with an allocation of RM10mil to provide cash assistance of up to RM10,000 to B40 and M40 home buyers to pay their housing deposits.
He said the state government would also continue to provide financial assistance under the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) special aid package next year, with RM285.47mil allocated in the budget.
"This is to help our people recover from the impact of the pandemic," he said.
Abang Johari also announced special financial assistance of one and a half month's salary for state civil servants and RM500 for federal civil servants.
He said this was in appreciation of their services and contribution.