Abang Johari: Priority is to make sure Sarawak’s economy is strong

Taib (third right) with his wife Raghad and others showing Chinese caligraphy which translates to the UCA Chinese New Year gathering. Uggah is standing on Taib's right while Tiong is at right.

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SIBU, Jan 29: Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s priority as the Chief Minister of Sarawak is to ensure that the state is strong economic-wise as a weak economy will be detrimental to the well-being of the people.

Speaking at the United Chinese Association Sibu Division Chinese New Year gathering on Tuesday night, he said as the state is now “quite independent” in its decision-making, and it was not longer in a situation where they always had to toe the line every time like before.

His text-of-speech was read by out his deputy, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

“Being independent politically, we have the power and space to make decisions that are beneficial to the people and in the interest of Sarawak, and of course in accordance with the rule of law,” he added.

Abang Johari cited a number initiatives he had implemented for the well-being of the people, including the Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS) to provide alternative funding, taking back the Bakun Hydroelectric Dam, setting up Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) to spearhead activities in the oil and gas industry, engage with other countries like Singapore to enhance trade, and introduce the sales tax on resources for export to increase state revenue.

He had also optimised Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda) into three smaller agencies with a total allocation of RM4.5 billion to focus on the provision of infrastructure and amenities such as roads and round-the-clock supplies of electricity and clean water in rural areas which are in dire need.

He noted it was unprecedented that a funding of RM2.37 billion was made available to provide electricity towards 97 per cent electrification of the state by 2020.

Beginning this year, the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government has been helping house owners by subsidising RM5,000 in connection fees charged by Sarawak Energy Berhad. as well as subsidising RM5 for household water consumption which is equivalent to 11,300 litres.

Abang Johari also highlighted that the state government had allocated RM2.8 billion to implement water supply projects to overcome constant water shortage in critical areas along coastal and interior areas.

Meanwhile, the chief minister noted the state experienced a food deficit of about RM4 billion in 2018, which is anticipated to increase to RM6 billion by 2030. Thus, he emphasised that Sarawak needs to strengthen its food production.

Among those present were Head of State, Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, his wife Raghad Kurdi Taib, Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing and UCA Sibu Division president Ngieng Ping Sing. — DayakDaily