State budget: State govt committed to spending big on state devt especially for rural areas

International Conference on Sarawak and Asean main organiser Kingsley Advisory and Strategic Initiatives Sdn Bhd (KASI Institute) executive vice-chairman Tan Sri Dr Michael Yeoh (left) presenting a token of appreciation to Abang Johari (centre) during the conference's opening ceremony.

KUCHING, Nov 1: The state government is fully committed to accelerating the state’s development by spending big on development expenditure.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg revealed that this was apparent as the state government had increased its development expenditure from RM3.92 billion in 2016 to RM4.29 billion in 2017.

This, he added, was an increase of RM370 million, proof of its commitment to improving the state’s infrastructure and potential.

“And I don’t mind telling you today that the state Budget I will table at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) on November 5th will be the state biggest budget ever for Sarawak.

“It will be a record budget that will be a testament to our commitment to fulfill the aspirations of our people to have more roads and bridges to increase connectivity and increase the coverage of treated water supply and electricity,” Abang Johari told some 200 participants at the International Conference on Sarawak and Asean here today.

Apart from infrastructure development, he said the state government also realised the need to create a suitable business environment for all investors and businesses to allow them to thrive in the state and eventually boost the state’s economy.

As such, Abang Johari said the state government had set up the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) a decade ago which had since entered its second phase of development.

“Thus far, it has attracted approximately RM79.3bil worth of investments from the private and public sectors, with private investments in 22 projects from various industries amounting to RM33.6 billion throughout its five growth nodes, creating 61,000 jobs,” he said.

Abang Johari delivering his address during the International Conference on Sarawak and Asean.

He revealed that the success of Score had seen its expansion from 70,000 sq km to 100,000 sq km this year, and its trigger industries in aluminium, steel, oil-based and glass have attracted cluster industries from across the region.

This, he pointed out, had also led to ample opportunities for start-ups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the state with the provision of various grants and incentives.

“For example, in 2017, the state government has allocated RM700 million in various grants to support entrepreneurs and the amount has increased to RM900 million in 2018.

“Incentives and programmes by ACTYVATE, Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) and Tabung Ekonomi Gagasan Anak Bumiputera Sarawak (Tegas) can also be leveraged upon.

“I encourage and welcome entrepreneurs, both local and abroad, to see Sarawak as the platform for the development of their business ideas which could flourish to become the next big thing in the region,” said Abang Johari.

He also said that the state government has also been putting much effort in developing the socio-economy of the rural folks, by setting up development agencies under Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda) to look into the development of rural and interior Sarawak.

“This would involve developments in six economic trigger projects, namely aquaculture, tourism, forestry, palm oil, rubber and biotechnology.

“There will be a focus on commercial agriculture, particularly for the highland areas. However, for this to succeed, it would require big players from the private sector to act as anchor farmers,” said Abang Johari.

He said the development of the agricultural sector should incorporate the use of the latest production technologies as well as communication and digital technology as part of the state’s digital economy incentive, and to be part of the digital future. — DayakDaily