Chong: Sarawak 2020 budget ‘presumptuous’

Chong speaking to the media.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Nov 4: Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen has described the Sarawak 2020 Budget as ‘presumptuous’ as Petronas has yet to pay the 5 per cent state sales tax (SST).

As such, he said, the Sarawak government should not include the so-called income from SST imposed on Petronas in the Sarawak 2020 Budget.

“This is very presumptuous budgeting. For the mere fact that until now, the sales tax on petroleum product has not been paid by Petronas and yet for the second year running, the state government has included that in their budget 2020 when in 2019, the sales tax has not even been paid and now we are in November. We have only one month left to the end of 2019 and there not even one single sen collected from Petronas.

“From what (Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi) Abang Johari (Tun Openg) has stated, they are going to issue a letter but I thought the letter of demand had been issued a long time ago and now is the time for the court adjudication and they are just sitting on it and dragging it out,” Chong told the media at the State Legislative Assembly here today.

He also warned that the state could face an “off-budgeting financing” alternative financial model as announced by Abang Johari in his Budget 2020 speech which he likened to 1MDB.

“That’s like the 1MDB financing model. At the end of the day the state is going to guarantee the repayment of the loan under this so-called financing model. This alternative financing model is in essence “off-budget accounting” or we called it “off-balance sheet borrowing”. Some borrowing guarantee liability that will not be reflected in our budget document.

“So what Abang Jo is doing is exactly what Najib (Datuk Seri Najib Razak) was doing five years ago which has culminated in the scandal of 1MDB. If this trend is not stopped it will end up like 1MDB,” he reiterated.

On the RM100 million allocated for Village Development and Security Committees (JKKKs) next year, Chong who is also Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman stressed that it would be good for the overall development of the rural areas.

“it proves a fact that legal competition is always good for the people,” he said, adding that because the PH federal government is willing to pay the chairpersons and secretaries of the Federal Village Community Management Council (MPPKP), the state government would also do likewise.

Meanwhile, Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman claimed Abang Johari was not telling the truth about the 30 per cent development budget for Sarawak and Sabah.

According to him, the actual development budget for Sarawak and Sabah is 31 per cent making the budget percentage in the national budget for the two states.

“There is RM9 billion plus for (Sarawak and Sabah). The total development budget is RM56 billion. There is the states’ specific development budget. Another portion (benefitting the two states) which you cannot attach to any state for instance: military equipment, police upgrading and software programmes — RM30 billion to all states. (A sum of) RM26 billion across the board which will benefit everybody,” he added. — DayakDaily