Abg Jo: Sarawak unhappy, budget disproportionate and unfair

Abang Johari (left) paying a courtesy call on Shafie (fight) at the Sabah Chief Minister's Office today (Oct 14).

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KOTA KINABALU, Oct 14: Sarawak government was not satisfied with the Budget 2020 because it was disproportionate to the size and infrastructure development of the state.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg explained that in disbursing the RM4.4 billion Development Expenditure for Sarawak, the state might have been compared to the individual states in the Peninsula, which was why the allocation was disproportionate.

“If we look at the size of the state together with the resources we have contributed to the national coffers, of course we are not happy (with Budget 2020),” he told a press conference here after paying a courtesy call on Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Mohamad Shafie Apdal today.

“(This is) Because their (federal government) rational was that the disbursement would be distributed evenly between all the states in Malaysia, comparing us with Perlis and other Peninsula states. That is why I think the Budget 2020 is not fair for Sarawak,” he added.

He was responding to a question on Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s remark saying Sarawak was hard to please.

After the Budget 2020 announcement last Friday, many state leaders have expressed their dissatisfaction with the budget as well.

Elaborating, Abang Johari pointed out that Sarawak’s sheer size alone would need a lot of funds to be able to set up basic infrastructures throughout the state.

“This would be especially true when it comes to digital infrastructure as Sarawak is heading towards a digital economy,” he said.

“If we look at Selangor and Melaka, it is equivalent to just Kuching in terms of size. Therefore you cannot use the rational of disbursing the fund equivalent to each state. Not to mention building our rural road connectivity,” he stressed.

Abang Johari thus emphasised this was the reason why Sarawak has to generate its own revenue by leveraging on its oil and gas resources so to be able to develop the much needed infrastructures.

Meanwhile, on the constitutional obligation of Special Grant for Sabah and Sarawak which was less than the 40 per cent proposed, Shafie said he was however grateful that it has been revised in Budget 2020.

“We did raise this during the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) Steering Committee Meeting before to revise the Special Grant for Sabah and Sarawak as it had not been revised since 1969.

“Nonetheless we are grateful that it has been revised for the Budget 2020, although the amount is not what we desired, as we do not know the formula used (by the Ministry of Finance) to determine the amount. It was never discussed with us,” he added.— DayakDaily