By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, Nov 5: Gabungan Parti Sarawak Backbenchers Club (GPSBBC) appeals to Sarawakians to defend the state’s rights by continuing to support local-based parties, especially GPS, so that the state would not lose the rights over its resources.
At a press conference after the tabling of the State Budget 2019 here today, GPSBBC member Dato Henry Jinep said the record state budget unveiled by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg reflected what the state is capable of if it is in control of its own resources.
“We are practising our rights to impose the sales tax for all our petroleum-based products. With this kind of revenue, we can start to see that we are fiscally independent, meaning we don’t have to wait for the federal to give us loans or grants to do development projects like water supply, roads and electricity.
“With this budget, it will enable the GPS government under the leadership of Abang Johari to continue to bring in development for Sarawak.
“We must be proud to have the good leadership of the GPS government. So, we must protect this government, our rights and the state. We must control our own resources,” he emphasized.
Jinep, who is also Tasik Biru (PDP) assemblyman, said Abang Johari’s budget was a brilliant idea as it showed that the chief minister had done extensive homework and achieved brilliant results within less than two years in office.
He said the idea of collecting revenue by taxing sales of petroleum-based products was the state’s rights as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
“And within two years, we will start to see the product of this independent fiscal. This is a good beginning, and this is the mother of all budgets,” said Jinep.
GPSBBC chairman Aidel Lariwoo said revenue collected from the five per cent sales tax for all petroleum-based products would be able to sustain the state’s spending on development without even touching the state’s reserves.
“That’s why next year, we can rely on this revenue from the sales tax on petroleum products for our development budget. When we have money next year, sure we can develop our state using our money without touching any reserves, like I think the opposition has been advocating and reporting to all the people that the state government is depleting or finishing or using the state reserves.
“This is very important. This is our constitutional right,” said Aidel.
GPSBBC member cum Jemoreng (PBB) assemblyman Datuk Dr Juanda Jaya remarked that Sarawak had been contributing most of its revenues to Putrajaya for a very long time, and it was high time for the state to get back its rights to its own resources.
“State Budget 2019 is for the benefit of the rural folks, where after May 9, 2018, thousands of rural development projects have been cancelled.
“With this (state) budget, we would be able to carry out or continue these rural development projects,” he said.
Dr Juanda also stressed that the state budget announcement should also send a clear message to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government that the state walks the talk, not like some PH leaders who made a “30 per cent promise” that never happened.
GPSBBC member Dennis Ngau, who is also Telang Usan (PBB) assemblyman, said it had been Abang Johari’s effort to help the state find a new stream of income since day one upon becoming the state’s chief executive.
Dennis stressed that it was not because of election or for political gains, but in fact, the idea of taking control over the state’s own resources had been the state government’s intention ever since the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem’s time.
“We must thank Abang Johari for this brilliant idea that we have this money. Without big income, it would be very difficult to move forward. So, that is the continuation of what the state government has been doing all this while.
“It is not in response to the result of the last general elections (GE14),” stressed Ngau. — DayakDaily