Monday, May 23

MP asks for details on how RM5.3bln for Covid-19 was spent

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The heavily congested parking lots at Sibu Hospital. In the background is the temporary building which remains underutilized currently.

SIBU (Jan 26): The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government owes the people an explanation as to how they spend the RM5.3 billion allocated to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, Sibu MP Oscar Ling said.

According to him, most of the funds spent for the frontliners came from the federal government and the people have the right to know the details on the spending and where has it gone.

“The state government therefore needs to explain to the people the details on the spending as the amount of money involved is a huge sum of RM5.3 billion,” he added in a statement.

Ling was referring to the recent statement made by Deputy Chief Minister III Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian that the government had spent RM5.3 billion on combating Covid-19 pandemic.

Ling was sceptical as to whether the money was part of the 2021 state budget or whether it was a separate fund set up by the government to deal with Covid-19.

“People have the right to know the details about where the money is from and whether it was approved in Dewan Undangan Negeri (State Legislative Assembly).”

Normally, Ling said, if a special Covid-19 fund is set up, the source of the funding could be from the state reserve fund.

“Since so much money has been spent, why are there still so many qualified people who have yet to receive their Bantuan Khas Sayangku Sarawak (BKSS),” he asked.

Ling said so many unanswered queries on RM5.3 billion spending on the state government’s effort to combat Covid-19 pandemic could be the reason why the state 2022 Budget had not been passed in the State Legislative Assembly.

Commenting further, Ling said many countries have regarded the existence of the Omicron variant could be endgame of the Covid-19 pandemic because Omicron causes less severe symptoms and many countries also experienced decreases in cases.

He said studies had shown that the Omicron variant is more contagious than Delta but leads to less severe infection among vaccinated people.

This had raised the long-awaited hopes that Covid-19 is starting to shift from pandemic to a more manageable endemic illness like seasonal flu, he said.

“The government should therefore shift its direction towards the post pandemic mode and put more emphasis on economic recovery and measures to tackle inflation,” he added.

On the temporary building/structure being erected at Sibu Hospital which is said to be able to accommodate 80 severe Covid-19 patients at the new car park , Ling said the government’s initiative came too late especially now when the usage is low.

“It can be very useful if it was built during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, the Covid-19 situation had improved and the 80-bed temporary building is underutilized.

“Instead, it is affecting the parking capacity at the hospital, causing huge congestion,” he pointed out.