By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Dec 1: Sarawak requires at least 10 per cent of the nation’s 2023 development budget to address the development imbalance in the State, as well as for allocations due to be directly and expeditiously disbursed into the State account to ensure speedy implementation of federal government-funded projects.
Minister of Infrastructure and Ports Development Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas highlighted this in echoing Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg’s call for the federal government to increase the federal budget allocation to Sarawak.
“The current allocation is a mere 5.7 per cent of the nation’s 2023 development budget. This sum is far from sufficient to address the imbalance in development requirements to gradually bring Sarawak up to par with West Malaysia.
“It is my hope that allocations that are due to Sarawak will be directly and expeditiously disbursed into the Sarawak State account. This will ensure the speedy implementation of all federal-funded projects and ensure that allocations can be fully utilised within the fiscal year,” he told the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) when delivering his ministerial winding-up speech here today.
Highlighting certain aspects of the 2023 Sarawak budget, Uggah who is also Deputy Premier, emphasised that the budget assigns a high priority to rural development, with the goal of narrowing the gap between rural and urban communities.
“It will come as no surprise to anybody that the infrastructure in rural Sarawak is lagging far behind that of Peninsular Malaysia and in urban areas of our State. This budget invests 60 per cent, or RM4.5 billion out of RM7.5 billion, in rural development.
“This includes fast-tracking infrastructure development in rural areas and eradicating the remnants of poverty towards uplifting the livelihoods of the rural population in Sarawak. With this generous budget, we will be on track to achieve our goal of being a developed State by 2030,” he said.
Sarawak has tabled a surplus budget for 2023 with estimated total revenue of RM11.035 billion and ordinary expenditure of RM10.797 billion.
On this, Uggah said this is the first time in the State’s history that revenue is projected to surpass the RM11 billion mark.
“This unprecedented projected increase of revenue to RM11.035 billion is made possible because YAB Premier places great emphasis on fiscal responsibility, and his wisdom in revenue re-engineering efforts,” he said.
With Abang Johari continuously and relentlessly tapping into new sources of revenue to grow the economy, particularly in uncharted areas, Uggah is confident this will lead to a substantial increase in revenue and dramatically improve Sarawak’s fiscal situation.
“I believe with the clear vision and direction of our YAB Premier, Sarawak will be able to develop into an economic powerhouse that will contribute to the nation and drive the whole country forward,” he added. — DayakDaily