By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, Nov 5: Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said the tabling of the record State Budget 2019 today marked the day Sarawak can start becoming financially independent from Putrajaya.
While being the biggest state budget ever and yet maintained a surplus to the state coffers, he opined that the state government should now seriously consider setting up a sovereign fund.
“This morning is a historical day for Sarawak. Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg described it as extraordinary not just the quantum alone but this the first time we are experiencing the start of financial independence. In the past, when we ran out of money, we ask Kuala Lumpur because all the taxes and oil and gas money are like what CM (Abang Johari) said — contributed to Kuala Lumpur coffer.
“So, nowadays for Sarawak to move forward, we have to start thinking how are we going to be financially independent,” he told reporters after the tabling of the budget.
Dr Sim believed that when the state becomes financially independent, the state government would be able to do more for the people.
“Contrast to the federal budget, you can see clearly the Sarawak budget allocated more than 75 per cent for development because Sarawak has been lagging behind.
“When I was in the Senate (Dewan Negara), I kept on saying that and bringing all these issues (including Sarawak lagging behind). It is not new, not because a change of government (is needed) but because we are lagging behind and its time Sarawak to look after its own state.”
Dr Sim said he was also happy that the budget was both rural-centric and people-centric, where RM1,000 would be given to every newborn Sarawakian child.
“This is just the beginning. There are more people-centric policies we have in mind because when we got money, we can do a lot more for the people.”
He also assured that State Budget 2020 would be even better and bigger.
“So, this is the beginning of Sarawak’s financial independence.” — DayakDaily