By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, Nov 5: Every newborn Sarawakian baby will be given a one-off incentive of RM1,000, irrespective of ethnicity, religious beliefs and social status, under the State 2019 Budget.
In making the announcement at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting today, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state had decided to introduce this new policy for future Sarawakian children to further their education or as capital to pursue their career.
“This incentive can only be withdrawn upon attaining the age of 18,” he emphasised.
Meanwhile, Abang Johari also called upon the federal government to fulfil the promises made, where Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had presented the new direction of the federal government.
It includes the reduction of development expenditure ceiling from the original allocation of RM260 billion to RM220 billion to consolidate its fiscal position.
Despite the reduction in the development expenditure ceiling, Dr Mahathir had given his assurance that priority would be given to development in Sarawak and Sabah to spur both states to higher economic growth.
“In accelerating development in Sarawak and Sabah, the federal government will undertake intensifying economic growth and development planning, improving infrastructure for better connectivity and expanding access to basic infrastructure, amenities and services.
“The federal government will also undertake efforts to increase employment opportunities and enhance the development of customary land,” said Abang Johari.
As Sarawak has contributed significantly to the national economic growth as well as to the federal coffer in terms of collection of taxes and revenue from oil and gas, Abang Johari commented it was only fair that the federal government provided a more equitable allocation to Sarawak, particularly for development purposes.
He added that the allocation of RM4.346 billion for Sarawak as announced in the 2019 Federal Budget was only 7.94 per cent of the total development budget as compared to RM4.336 billion in 2018, which was 9.42 per cent of the total development budget.
“The 2019 Federal Budget does not reflect a fair and equitable allocation to Sarawak despite the promise made by the state Pakatan Harapan to make sure that Sarawak and Sabah will get 30 per cent of the federal development allocation,” he lamented. — DayakDaily