Wong: Basic issues, cost of living not addressed by state budget

Sarawak Legislative Assembly Sitting, November 2017

KUCHING, Nov 14: The state government’s RM8.226 billion 2018 budget shows that the state is rich and emphasises on mega projects, but fails to address basic issues such as the rising cost of living.

Palawan assemblyman David Wong said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s budget which focused on tech savvy projects, was nothing like the people-centred policies introduced by his predecessor the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, such as abolishing tolls for the bridges, reducing the premium payments for agricultural and residential land and more.

“Sarawak needs a caring government that takes care of the people especially the poor and the less privileged first before we embark on other agendas.

“Yes, we have a rich state government but how about our folks? With the implementation of GST, the devaluation of the ringgit and the so-called rationalisation by the BN (Barisan Nasional) where subsidies for fuels, cooking oil, sugar and even flour were cut, many are finding it difficult to keep up with the rising cost of living,” he said in the State Legislative Assembly today while debating on State Budget 2018.

Compared the Sarawak Budget to the Penang government and Selangor government, Wong said that Sarawak did not care about the impact of rising cost of living for the people on the street and the families struggling to stay afloat,

“A good budget is more than just numbers or the reserve we hold but how it affects and helps the people to be financially independent, care for the less privileged and be able to achieve a balanced distribution for all sectors of society through the government ministries.

In the 2018 State Budget, out of the estimated operating expenditure of RM2,481 million, RM646.2 million (26 per cent) was allocated to the three ministries headed by the Chief Minister, leaving the remaining 74 per cent to be shared between the remaining eight ministries.

Out of the estimated development expenditure of RM5,744 million, RM4,048 million (70.5 per cent) was allocated to the ministries headed by the Chief Minister, leaving the remaining RM1,697 million (29.5 per cent) to be shared between the remaining eight ministries.

“Such concentration of power defies the principles of economic efficiency and accountability and maybe that’s why we are still the poorest state in the country,” Wong said.

According to the Malaysian Economic Monitor April report to the Economic Planning Unit, only 27 per cent of the country’s poorest 10 per cent had received help from the government.

“This is especially serious in Sarawak as we have one of the highest poverty rates in Malaysia and many of our folks in the rural areas are without basic public utilities such as piped water, electric power and clinics not to mention fire fighting facilities which are the common themes of the backbenchers’ debate speech as well. And yet our CM is talking about LRT and all those mega projects,” Wong added. — Dayak Daily