RM553 mln more for Sabah aid package


Shafie checks his temperature in front of a thermal scanner at the entrance to the State Legislative Assembly building.

KOTA KINABALU: The State Legislative Assembly has passed the First Supplementary Supply (2020) Bill 2020, approving an additional budget of RM553 million to help those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in Sabah.

Speaker Datuk Seri Syed Abbas Syed Ali approved the Bill after it was tabled by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal at the State Legislative Assembly sitting yesterday.

Shafie, who is also State Finance Minister, said that the additional RM553 million was needed to implement the Sabah Covid-19 Assistance Package.

On March 25, a total of RM670 million was allocated for the said package.

“The package comprises 15 measures that can be summarized into three main categories, namely assistance for the frontliners; assistance to ease the burden faced by the people, especially the lower-income communities; and for the early steps that the Government will take to stimulate and restore the state’s economy,” said Shafie when tabling the Bill.

Out of the additional allocation, a total of RM75 million will be channelled to the Chief Minister’s Department (CMD) and out of that RM75 million, RM50 million will be set aside as an emergency Covid-19 fund.

“RM10 million will be used for food assistance and necessities for the frontliners while the remaining RM15 million will be used to fund food supply in the affected villages in the state,” added Shafie.

Separately, he said RM50 million would be allocated to the State Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry to help the state’s farmers, fishermen and breeders who were affected by the movement control order (MCO).

“A total of 169,630 people from this group will each receive RM300 one-off payment,” explained Shafie.

The Senallang assemblyman added that RM24 million would be channelled to the Sabah Social Welfare Department (JPKA) to grant RM 300 one-off payment each to 62,638 individuals comprising senior citizens, persons with disabilities and orphans.

Out of the RM24 million, Shafie said RM2 million would be allocated to the State Ministry of Health and People’s Wellbeing.

He disclosed that another RM62 million would be allocated to the State Rural Development Ministry to grant RM500 one-off payment each to 38,203 individuals from the poor and hardcore poor community.

On top of that, RM340 million will be allocated to the State Finance Ministry for the purposes of stimulating Sabah’s economic sector by providing various assistance to the businesses in the state.

“From the aforementioned amount, RM90 million will be set aside for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the state as well as the micro credit scheme, which is being managed by the Sabah Credit Corporation.

“The remaining RM200 million will be used to fund 1,000 small projects that aim to improve the quality, infrastructure coverage and basic facilities in the rural areas,” Shafie elaborated.

The Bill was also debated by Tambunan assemblyman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan (Sabah Star), Kuamut assemblyman Datuk Masiung Banah (Warisan) and Kemabong assemblyman Jamawi Jaafar (Warisan).

Jeffrey requested an allocation of RM100,000 to all the assemblymen in the state for the purpose of providing assistance to all Sabahans who were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Shafie disagreed with the suggestion, pointing out that there are already existing assistance packages to help Sabahans in need.

Jeffrey had also asked Shafie if Covid-19 tests could be done at his Keningau parliamentary constituency so that there would be no need for the test samples to be sent to the state capital.

In his reply, Shafie said that the matter would be looked into but lamented that the state currently does not have enough equipment to carry out Covid-19 tests outside of Kota Kinabalu.