By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Nov 13: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing urges the federal government to be fair and unbiased in the distribution of its development allocation to Sarawak as the state is one of the nation’s major revenue contributors.
The actual development funds in the 2020 Federal Budget allocated to the three regions which formed Malaysia, he pointed out, put a different light on the concept of shared prosperity as conceptualised by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“Perhaps, this was what the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government meant by Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 where almost equal development allocation was given (on average) to other states in Peninsular Malaysia even though these states put in peanuts in terms of their contributions to the federal government.
“Therefore, I would like to urge the federal government to be fair or unbiased in the distribution of its development allocation to Sarawak, as the size of Sarawak is almost the same as that of Peninsular Malaysia.
“Plus, the fact is Sarawak is one of the nation’s major revenue contributors via its oil and gas sector assets,” he told the august House in his winding-up speech this morning.
He was commenting on the 2020 Federal Budget in which Sarawak and Sabah will receive development allocations amounting to RM4.4 billion (9 per cent) and RM5.2 billion (11 per cent) respectively, while Peninsular Malaysia will receive RM46.4 billion (80 per cent) out of the total development allocation of RM56 billion for 2020.
“For Sarawak, there is a meagre increase of RM100 million in comparison to the 2019 development budget allocation of RM4.3 billion.
“Sarawak, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia are equal partners as enshrined under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63). However, the 2020 Federal Budget allocation does not reflect the fair and equal wealth distribution between partners that formed Malaysia,” he sais.
Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development, emphasised that the distribution of development allocation for 2020 was not consistent with what was envisaged under the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, that is, fair and equitable distribution across income groups, ethnicities, regions and supply chains.
“If I may reiterate, the development allocation for Sarawak is 9 per cent, for Sabah is 11 per cent and Peninsular Malaysia is 80 per cent,” he added.
As a ministry that connects and develops Sarawak, he stressed that providing extensive connectivity is imperative because accessibility is an important factor for development in all aspects of economic activities such as tourism, marketing, logistics, agriculture and not forgetting the many facets of the digital economy.
“Prior to the 14th General Election (GE14), the federal government under Barisan Nasional (BN) then had approved 59 projects which included roads and bridges with a total scheme value of about RM2.2 billion.
“However, with the change in the government at the federal level to PH, some of the projects were discontinued and the Sarawak government had to take over the implementation of projects, and at the same time ensuring that sufficient budget allocation is provided as approved earlier by the then BN government,” he reiterated.
He added that the federal government should be mindful of the much-needed infrastructure development required for Sarawak in order for the state to achieve developed status by 2030.
“The current PH government, as the successor in title to the previous government, they must honour the commitment made by the previous government to carry out infrastructure projects diligently and in good faith,” he said. — DayakDaily