Saturday, February 27

Govt urged to introduce economic stimulus programme in view of Covid-19 outbreak


Sim Kiang Chiok

KUCHING: The government is urged to introduce economic stimulus programme for all sectors to help various industry players cushion the impact from the current outbreak of Covid-19 in China.

In making this call, Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) Kuching branch chairman Sim Kiang Chiok said even though the reduced tourist arrivals from China did not affect Sarawak much, the Covid-19 situation would still affect tourist arrivals to the state from other countries.

“Last year, Sarawak had only 40,000 visitors from China. Given the total arrivals of 4.66 million, this is only less than one per cent.

“However, the virus (Covid-19) has also reduced the indirect arrivals from other countries as most other travellers will want to postpone or cancel their travelling during this time.

“This indirect effect will have much impact on the tourist industry,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

According to Sim, reduced tourist arrivals will also affect the housing market in Sarawak.

He said: “Buying new houses will be delayed by locals, repayment to banks will be slowed especially on those service industries such as restaurants, travel and accommodation.”

He, however, observed that the construction industry should not be affected much by the Covid-19 situation since the state’s industry players relied on Indonesian workers.

“There are not many contractors and workers from China. Unless the virus (Covid-19) has affected that country (Indonesia), I don’t foresee much problem with our (construction) workers.”

He added: “Maybe imported machineries from China will be affected due to long closure of the factories there.”

Sim also noted that fuel price had dropped as a result of slow demand from China while there was also direct impact on Sarawak’s export to China including timber products, durian and bird nests.

“If the virus (Covid-19) is not contained and controlled, and spread to our local populations, then the economic scenario will be very bad for us.

“We can see that the state government is putting all the right checks and controls to stop the spread here,” he said.