Chong: GPS budget will lead Sarawak to bankruptcy if reckless spending persists

Chong (seated centre) raise the issue at a press conference at the media centre during the DUN sitting.

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Nov 13: The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government will bring the state towards the path of bankruptcy within three years if it persists with indiscreet and reckless spending, said Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen.

The Democratic Action Party (DAP) lawmaker cited Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s Sarawak Budget 2020, which has a total expenditures of over RM22 billion.

Chong, who is also the state Pakatan Harapan chief, listed down the budget as follows; RM13.357 billion to accelerate the pace of development in the rural area; RM3.742 billion to provide treated water and electricity supply throughout the state and RM400 million to spearhead the development of digital economy infrastructures.

In addition, RM1.8 billion to the Government Contribution towards Approved Agencies Trust Fund for the repayment of certain off-shore loans and RM3.294 billion for operating expenditure, which he said added up to RM22.593 billion.

“There are other items in Abang Johari’s Budget speech proposing billions of ringgit to be allocated over the next few years, such as RM5.145 billion for the construction of roads and bridges in Sarawak, RM797 million for agriculture programmes and projects, and others.

“Despite such a huge amount of allocation announced by Abang Johari, the GPS government only tabled in DUN Sarawak for a sum of RM9.694 billion for year 2020.

“How will the remaining budget of more than RM13 billion of the proposed expenditure for year 2020 be financed?” Chong said.

He believed that GPS government’s Alternating Financing Model was nothing else but borrowing through raising bonds and borrow from the capital market through Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS), which Chong said was confirmed by Second Finance Minister Douglas Uggah Embas in the latter’s winding up speech today.

“It is normal for government to raise bonds and borrow to finance its expenditure, but it is very abnormal and extremely risky for government to raise bonds and borrow such amount which is more than double its total development expenditure.

“On the one hand, the total development expenditure provided in the 2020 Sarawak Budget is RM6.597 billion with the operating expenditure of RM3.2 billion, making at total approved expenditure of RM9.7 billion. On the other hand, from Abang Johari’s budget speech, the state government shall be spending more than RM22.5 billion in year 2020, i.e RM13 billion more than the amount approved by the Sarawak DUN,” he continued.

Chong said at this rate, the state government will incur more debt than its reserve fund in no time.

If left unchecked, this will snowball to the amount that is beyond the state government’s ability to repay, he cautioned.

“This is exactly what happened to the federal government when it was under the previous Barisan Nasional administration and the GPS government is following its footstep,” opined Chong. — DayakDaily