KUCHING, Nov 4 — The Sarawak Government proposes to introduce a free water programme next year, estimated to benefit 600,000 household accounts throughout the state.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said under the programme, every household from both the urban and rural areas will enjoy free water for the first RM5 of their monthly water bill.

“This will involve an allocation of RM40 million,” he said when tabling the Supply (2020) Bill at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly sitting here today.

Abang Johari who is also the state Finance and Economic Planning Minister said the government was also proposing to introduce special assistance for post-natal care with a total funding of RM18 million to be allocated next year as additional assistance to mothers for post-natal care to ease their financial burden upon giving birth.

“Each mother will receive RM450 effective from 1st January 2020,” he said adding that this was a continuation of the incentive announced in the 2019 State Budget in which every Sarawakian newborn baby would receive RM1,000.

Other than that, Abang Johari said the state government also plans to introduce a free school bus service next year to provide students within Kuching city with a convenient travelling mode to and from school.

He said, the service will be based on the ‘hop-on hop-off’ concept where the students could hop-on the bus at any point along the route and then hop-off at their respective schools.

“This idea was mooted from our recognition of the financial burden faced by the low-income families in urban areas in meeting the cost of transportation to schools.

“Notwithstanding that, this service will also help to ease traffic congestion in the city area. This will be our pilot initiative and will be introduced to other densely populated cities in Sarawak, when the need arises,” he said.

Apart from that, he said, to ease the difficulties of some Sarawakian graduates in paying their National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) loans, the state government will set aside a sum of RM30 million for a mechanism to assist those in need.

— BERNAMA

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