PORT DICKSON, Oct 20: Municipalities and local councils should be able to increase their revenue if they are able to capitalise on various possible sources of revenue based on the myriad of services provided to the public.
According to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, it is important for local authorities to understand how revenue can be derived from the various forms of services provided at their level.
However, he pointed out that any form of council tax and levy must be implemented gradually, and the amount charged or any increases must be reasonable so as not to burden the people and taxpayers.
According to a statement, the Chief Minister said this in his speech when officiating at the closing of the High-Performance Team (HPT) Retreat held in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan.
He also described the process of collecting income from various sources and consolidating them into the revenue of local authorities as “revenue reengineering” and disclosed that the Sarawak government had also needed to undergo the same process to increase Sarawak’s revenue from potential sources based on the law.
He noted that the imposition of tax following the power provided by the Constitution to Sarawak was able to provide the state with additional revenue of RM3 billion, and cited the sales tax on petroleum and gas products for export from Sarawak as an example of revenue engineering,
He also cited alternative sources of funding provided by Sarawak Development Bank (DBOS) as another example of how reserve funds could be used to fund strategic development programmes without diminishing the state’s reserves.
Abang Johari stated specific projects like water supply and provision of infrastructure had the potential to expand the economy and generate revenue that would be paid back to the bank, thus enabling the government to recoup the amount borrowed by the bank.
He pointed out that proper planning of towns was necessary so that they could be turned into vibrant commercial centres, which is also vital to enable local authorities to enlarge their revenue base.
Citing the satellite town of Sibu Jaya in Sibu as an example, he revealed that initially the town was not able to grow well but after a redesign to allow for commercial growth, the town became more alive. He added that planned alternative road access from Sibu should add further steam to the pace of growth for Sibu Jaya.
On another matter, Abang Johari also disclosed the state government’s proposal to set up an airline service to increase air connectivity to Sarawak would not involve aircraft purchase.
He noted Sarawak had the choice of leasing aircraft as this would provide a more viable option compared to buying aircraft.
He said direct flight services from points overseas straight to the capital city would be more convenient for tourists.
He expressed his confidence that Sarawak’s tourism potential could be well-exploited.
Earlier, State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion gave a presentation of the findings and recommendations of the various labs to the Chief Minister.
The HPT retreat is an annual programme for the Sarawak Civil Service primarily to create teamwork synergy between heads of departments (HODs), acting as a platform for HODs to deliberate on critical issues and to promote stronger cooperation between various agencies to enhance service and project delivery.
This year the retreat themed “Empowering Local Authorities for the Implementation of Smart Government Initiatives” was specifically aimed to foster deliberation on ways to upgrade the quality of services of local authorities for the benefit of the people.
About 200 HODs, senior officers, mayors, council heads and councillors attended the four-day retreat.
Present were Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research, Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong, Minister of Utilities Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Integrity and Ombudsman), Datuk Talib Zulpilip, Minister of Housing and Local Government Dato Sri Professor Dr Sim Kui Hian, and Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports, Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.
Also present were Assistant Minister of Islamic Affairs and DBKU, Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi and Assistant Minister of Local Government and Housing, Datu Dr Penguang Manggil. — DayakDaily