Minister affirms no tax hikes with Sarawak’s free tertiary education policy

Datuk Dr Annuar Rapaee

KUCHING, Dec 29: Education, Innovation, and Talent Development (MEITD) Sarawak Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Annuar Rapaee has assured that the implementation of free tertiary education in Sarawak by 2026 will not result in tax hikes or reductions in other development sectors.

According to Dr Annuar, the initiative could be implemented with the State government’s projected revenue increase by 2030.

“We will not do that (raise taxes and cut development funds) because this policy was made when we knew our income would increase.

“Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg often tells us that our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and income will increase by 2030,” he told reporters during a Zoom interview yesterday.

He made this statement in response to claims made by social media users that the Sarawak government plans to raise tax rates and reduce development expenses in order to offer free education to Sarawakian children.

Dr Annuar, who is also Nangka assemblyman, further noted that the initiative is one of the State government’s measures aimed to give back the State’s income to the people.

He went on to say that providing free tertiary education to students will also increase the number of admissions and that the sustainability of offering free education is not an issue.

He further highlighted that the State government has implemented a strong financial model over the years, which can support the free education policy.

The deputy minister made the statement in response to the Sarawak government’s recommendation that it provide a strong funding model to ensure the sustainability of the free education policy.

Meanwhile, on Nov 22, Dr Annuar revealed that each university currently accommodates approximately 4,000 students, with an estimated 25,000 students across Sarawak expected to avail themselves of the opportunity for free education in 2026.

On Oct 1, it was reported that the Premier had announced that Sarawakians would be entitled to free education at State-owned universities and higher education starting in 2026. — DayakDaily