Legislative assembly

MP asks for details of how RM5.3bn for Covid-19 was spent

The very congested parking lots of Sibu Hospital. In the background is the interim building which currently remains underutilized.

SIBU (Jan 26): The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government owes the people an explanation on how it is spending the RM5.3 billion allocated to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, the MP for Sibu, Oscar Ling.

According to him, most of the funds spent on the frontliners came from the federal government and people have a right to know the details of the expenditures and where they went.

“So the state government needs to explain to people the details of the expenditure as the amount involved is a whopping sum of RM5.3 billion,” he added in a statement.

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

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

“People have a right to know where the money is coming from and whether it has been approved by the Dewan Undangan Negeri (State Legislative Assembly).”

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

“Since so much money has been spent, why are there still so many qualified people who have not yet received their Bantuan Khas Sayangku Sarawak (BKSS),” he asked.

Ling said so many unanswered questions about the RM5.3 billion expenditure for the state government’s efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic could be the reason for the state budget to 2022 did not pass the state legislature.

Further commenting, Ling said that many countries have considered the existence of the Omicron variant may be the end of the Covid-19 pandemic as Omicron causes less severe symptoms and many countries have also seen a decrease in cases. .

He said studies have shown that the Omicron variant is more contagious than Delta but causes less severe infection in vaccinated people.

This had raised long-awaited hopes that Covid-19 would begin to transition from a pandemic to a more manageable endemic disease like seasonal flu, he said.

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

Regarding the temporary building/structure being constructed at Sibu Hospital, which could accommodate 80 Covid-19 patients in the new parking lot, Ling said the government’s initiative came too late, especially now that usage is low.

“It can be very useful if it was built at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now the Covid-19 situation has improved and the temporary 80-bed building is underutilized.

“Instead, it affects the hospital’s parking capacity, causing huge congestion,” he pointed out.