Finance Minister’s bankrupt remark is `kindergarten economics’ — STAR chief

Soo and party assistant treasurer Albert Voon after the press conference.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, June 22: It is Malaya that will go bankrupt first without Sarawak, said State Reform Party (STAR) president Lina Soo in response to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s remark that the state will be bankrupt in three years’ time under Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

She advised Lim to take a good look at Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s poor performance first before judging others. She also urged the federal government to return quickly all of Sarawak’s rights, especially those pertaining to its oil and gas resources.

In Kuching last night, Lim claimed that Sarawak would go bankrupt in three years if GPS maintained the state’s annual budget at RM11 billion.

“Lim’s logic is like kindergarten economics. It sounded like a desperate call,” Soo told a press conference today.

“It has been a year since the PH government came into power, but the country’s financial outlook has not improved.”

For instance, Moody’s had downgraded Petronas’ domestic issuer and foreign currency senior unsecured ratings to A2 from A1 as well as change the outlook to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’.

“And the rating of the government of Malaysia is A3, (indicating) not very good. Note that two-thirds of Petronas’ assets and reserves are based in Malaysia, so our petroleum sector is 21 per cent of the national revenue,” she said.

Soo reminded that Sarawak had a higher ratio than Malaysia, referring to rating agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P) reaffirming its A- long-term issuer credit rating on Sarawak with a stable outlook on Dec 21 last year, stating that its “exceptional budgetary performance and liquidity” mitigate its elevated debt and contingent liabilities.

“Sarawak was rated ‘stable’ with A- rating because of the huge cash surplus and abundant oil resources,” she highlighted.

“Be reminded that Sarawak is contributing 850,000 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) every single day and at the priced of USD65 per barrel yesterday and multiplying with the US currency exchange rate at RM4, it amounts to RM221 million per day.”

On Lim calling for a change in government in Sarawak to ensure the state will continue to thrive, Soo urged voters to vote for STAR and its allies instead.

“STAR will work with other parties, and we welcome all to work with us as an alliance to take over the government,” she said.

Soo assured that if her party formed the next government, the first thing to be implemented would be imposing 38 per cent sales tax on oil and gas, which will give Sarawak RM32 billion in revenue annually.

“It is constitutional and legal for the Sarawak government to impose sales tax, even as much as 38 per cent or higher.

“We will also fight for 100 per cent ownership of oil and gas. We own our land and resources,” she opined. — DayakDaily