Budget 2020 fails to fulfill promises for Sarawak

Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian

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By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Oct 12: SUPP president Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian has described the Budget 2020 as ‘Malaya-centric’ and a failure on the part of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to fulfill its election manifesto to Sarawak.

“Again, (it) is a Malaya-centric budget with PH failing to keep their promise of 30 per cent for Sabah and Sarawak (only 16 per cent) as well as 20 per cent of oil and gas royalty to Sarawak. Sarawak ‘tengok sahaja’,” he criticised in a statement issued.

The Minster of Local Government and Housing pointed out that Putrajaya has failed again it its duty to provide the necessary allocation for Sarawak to be as developed as Malaya.

“It is time for them to give back the autonomy without further delay so that Sarawak can get on with the necessary mammoth tasks ourselves immediately,” he reiterated.

Minister of Utilities Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom also lamented the insignificant allocation for utilities for Sarawak.

“Instead, the Sarawak government under GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) has allocated its own RM2.37 billion for rural electrification, and needs an additional RM900 million to achieve full electrification,” he stressed.

“Therefore, we were expecting larger federal allocation, but this is not case with the portion shared between Sarawak and Sabah,” he lamented.

As for rural water supply, he pointed out that there was no mention of specific amount allocated for the state out of the RM470 million allocation announced for Sabah and Sarawak.

The amount of fund required to provide full water supply coverage to the under-served rural areas in Sarawak, Dr Rundi emphasised was estimated at RM3 billion.

“This amount excludes the fund required to upgrade the existing water supply systems including the water grid, which will require a further amount of about RM6 billion,” he explained.

“Out of the RM2.3 billion put up to KPLB in 11MP, only a total of RM700 million is approved. This amount is therefore inadequate to increase the coverage and to meet the target of 99 per cent access to clean water in Sarawak as mentioned in the Budget,” he said.

On the other hand, he added that Sarawak has allocated RM2.8 billion for water stressed areas to improve the reliability and sustainability of our water under Phase One of the state’s Water Supply Master Plan and Water Grid Programme.

Under Phase Two of the programme which will be put up in the 12MP, Dr Rundi said the state water supply systems will be further improved by implementing the statewide water grid including raw water source development works, increasing the water treatment plant capacities as well as increasing the water coverage to the rural areas of Sarawak.

“The present overall water supply coverage in Sarawak is about 81.4 per cent. The allocation announced in the federal budget is estimated to be able to increase the overall coverage by only 0.3 per cent from the estimated 81.4 per cent to 81.7 per cent,” he added.

Meanwhile, Tamin assemblyman Christopher Gira echoed Dr Sim’s sentiment that the PH government has failed to keep its promise for Sarawak.

“It is (a) sad news for Sarawakians. Sarawak and Sabah are supposed to receive 30 per cent of total development budget as stated in PH manifesto during GE14 (14th General Election),” he said.

“Unfortunately, it is only 16.3 per cent of Development Budget for Budget 2020, wherein Sarawak gets RM4.4 billion while Sabah is getting more than us, at RM5.1 billion,” he stressed.

He asserted that Sarawak’s geographical size, which is almost the whole of Malaya, received less in this Budget compare to Sabah.

“Sarawak needs huge fund in every aspect of development to catch up with other states in Malaysia. The fund is needed for constructions of urban and rural roads, electricity supply, water supply, as well as upgrade and improve conditions in schools and many more,” he added.

Meanwhile, when contacted Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah and Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said they have yet to digest the whole budget speech before they can comment.— DayakDaily