PRS to push for bigger slice of the national budget

KUCHING, Oct 26: Party Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) leaders via the state government will continue to ask for a bigger share of the national budget from the federal government for the continuous development of rural infrastructure and amenities such as basic road linkages, utilities, schools, hostels and healthcare facilities.

“With implementation of GST, rural folks of Sarawak can look forward to more development. Now that the federal government has more money in its coffers, PRS will take the opportunity to seek for more allocations,” said PRS Youth publicity chief Andy Lawrence.

He said a slump in world crude oil prices had caused the country’s revenue from the distribution of dividend from Petronas to decrease.

“From RM26 billion in 2015, revenue dipped a whopping RM10 billion to only around RM16 billion in 2016. While our government has lost around RM10 billion owing to unfavourable crude oil prices, the positive collection of GST stood at RM38.5 billion in 2016, more or less making up for the shrinkage caused by reduction of oil revenue.”

However, GST collection is projected to grow by 3.9 per cent to around RM40 billion in 2017, he added, citing figures published in national daily.

Andy claimed rural residents were less affected by income tax and GST based on income level and consumption patterns compared to urban residents because they lived simply and focused mainly on daily necessities to get by.

“If you look at the total population base, disposal income and consumption patterns, most of the revenue from GST is from urban areas. West Malaysian towns and cities naturally contributed the most, making them the source of income from which GST revenue is derived.

“For PRS, this as an opportunity for the leaders to urge the government to redistribute a chunk of income derived from GST for the development of Sarawak’s rural areas.”

Meanwhile, on the recently launched Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto, Andy expressed skepticism over whether the opposition indeed cares for Sarawak. He stressed that he couldn’t help but be suspicious of the real motive behind the launch.

He claimed that the timing of the launch could not have been worse for the state’s rural folk, as it took place just when both federal and state governments are looking at developing Sarawak’s hinterland and with the opportunity for extra allocation from income derived from GST.

“It is easy for them to say abolish GST because the states under control of Pakatan Harapan such as Penang and Selangor are already developed and do not need the money. But they forgot that their states were given the financial allocations first, to be developed first.

“Now that it is Sarawak’s turn, they not only refuse to help, but want to cut off GST which is one of the financial resources that could be used to develop Sarawak’s hinterland.”

Andy added that he was not surprised that PH had suggested GST be abolished; he claimed the opposition coalition is encouraging voters in cities and towns to be selfish, to hoard instead of share.

“These are urban-centric parties. They do not care about rural folks and development.” — DayakDaily