By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Nov 7: Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon criticised the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)-led state government as “a high taxing government” because of new taxes introduced.
He said the new taxes put in place since Abang Johari came into office included the River Channel Maintenance Fee, Tourism Tax, Petroleum Sales Tax (2019), Aluminium Tax, Land Tonnage Levy and Water Royalty for 2020.
He said River Channel Maintenance Fee will allow Sarawak to collect RM19 million annually; Tourism Tax (RM2.5 million); Petroleum Sales Tax (RM3,897 million); Aluminium Tax (RM58 million); and Water Royalty which will see an increase of 250 per cent (imposed on Sarawak Energy) (RM360 million).
“From this, we can see this GPS government is introducing new burdens every year for businesses and the public. Businesses which are charged additional fees will certainly pass the taxes/levy/royalty to the end consumers, so the result is additional cost to the public,” said Dr Ting while debating Sarawak Budget 2020 at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) complex today.
“The three new additional taxes will generate RM500 million in 2020, and the Budget provides RM200 million to 230 million for Sarawakians: RM9.1 million cash to fishermen, PTPTN (National Higher Education Fund Corporation) loan for RM30 million, RM18 million for post-natal care, RM40 million for the RM5 discount of water bill, RM100 million for JKKK (Village Development and Security Committee), free school buses (services).
“In another words, this GPS is a high taxing government, high spending government but the value for money in development expenditure is very little,” said Dr Ting.
He expressed concern over the state’s financial status.
“The state reserve, which we have been proud of, has reduced by 10 per cent in 2018. It was over RM30 billion in December 2017, but only RM27 billion 12 months later.
“What would be the state reserve now? Looking at our current financial management, I believe it is still going in the downward trend. In the past nine months, the revenue is already 30 per cent, or RM2.2 billion below budgeted revenue, but the spending is continuing, if not more,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Ting also criticised Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg for a bloated cabinet and state administration.
“This government has the biggest administration with 29 ministers and assistant ministers with more than 24,000 government employees, an eight per cent increase from last year.
“In the Chief Minister’s Office, we have 32 political secretaries and 1,776 employees, that is 33 per cent more than last year with 1,332 employees.
“The budget for the Chief Minister’s Office is now more than RM800 million in 2020, about a quarter of the whole operational expenditure. The operational expenditure for this government has increased from RM2.2 billion in 2017 to RM3.3 billion in 2020, a 50 per cent expansion over three years,” he said. — DayakDaily