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By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, Nov 8: Tasik Biru assemblyman Dato Henry Harry Jinep wants Minister of Works Baru Bian to clarify if the RM4 billion development allocation for the state in the Federal Budget 2019 is meant for the Pan Borneo Highway project only.
Debating the State Budget 2019, Jinep voiced out that if the RM4 billion was for the highway initiative, there would be no money left for other development programmes or projects.
“We were made to understand that there was a cut of RM4 billion from the original cost of the Pan Borneo Highway project. Can the member of Ba’Kelalan (Baru Bian), who is the Minister of Works, enlighten us on this?”
When met by reporters later, Jinep reiterated that Baru should explain to the people about this allocation as it would be equivalent to the federal government not allocating anything for the state in its 2019 budget.
In his debate, Jinep opined that since Sarawak and Sabah should have been equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia, each of them should have been allocated at least RM18 billion for their development budget.
Jinep said this had resulted in Sarawak being forced to table a development-biased and rural-focused budget to offset the shortfalls of the federal budget and to show that Sarawak is capable of being independent of the federal government.
“If you want to swim, you must be forced into the water. This is the situation that has forced us to stand on our own, to be independent and to be treated as equal.
“The 2019 state budget tabled by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, wholly funded by our state fund, derived from revenue collected by the state government, is a testament that Sarawak is able to be fiscally independent and not having to rely entirely on the federal government for funding.
“This is a true example of returning the profit derived from the Motherland back to Sarawakians. No more are we beggars in our own country,” he said.
On Nov 5, Abang Johari announced RM11.914 billion as the state budget for 2019. This was made possible because the state would be imposing a five per cent sales tax on all petroleum-based products starting Jan 1 next year. — DayakDaily