By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Nov 13: The Sarawak government had tapped into the State’s reserve in 2019 to fund people-centric projects following the cancellation of these projects by Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
“The State is committed to implement various strategic and impact projects which are for the benefit of the rakyat. This is even more crucial as some of the approved federal projects as promised earlier to the rakyat have been cancelled by the previous PH government.
“Thus as an interim measure, we have to tap into our reserve to fund the implementation of these projects. This has caused a reduction of our state reserve from RM27.09 billion in 2018 to RM23.97 billion in 2019,” said Second Finance Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas during his winding up speech at Sarawak Legislative Assembly today.
He, however, pointed out that the reserve for 2020 will increase to RM25.2 billion which is about RM1.3 billion higher than 2019.
“We are mindful of the need to strike a balance between the need to accelerate the state development while at the same time, maintaining a healthy financial position,” said Uggah.
The Deputy Chief Minister said in addition to the State reserve of RM23.97 billion in 2019, the State has also an investment worth RM7.645 billion in both listed and unlisted companies.
He said these reserve figures are published annually in the official Auditor’s General Report which is available to the public and thus there is no necessity for these figures to be mentioned in the budget speech.
On the issue of setting aside about RM1 billion annually for repayment of its debt, Uggah reiterated that this provision is necessary to service the commitment in financing the State strategic development projects to accelerate development in the rural area, to achieve high income economy by 2030 and to uplift the standard of living the people.
On the accusation of keeping a substantial reserve and not spending enough on the current pandemic, he said the Sarawak government has provided financial assistance such as Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) amounting to RM1.74 billion in 2020 above and over the allocation provided by the federal government.
Comparatively, Penang only allocated RM151 million; Selangor, RM272 million; Sabah RM210 million and Johore, 174.5 million, he said. — DayakDaily