Sarawak tables record budget of RM11.9 billion

Sarawak state assembly (Wikipedia pic)

KUCHING: Sarawak has proposed a budget of RM11.914 billion for 2019, the biggest to date, with a focus on rural development to stimulate economic progress.

Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg said out of this amount, RM9.073 billion including a federal fund of RM0.260 billion was proposed for development expenditure, and RM2.841 million for operating expenditure.

Abang Johari, who is also the minister of finance and economic planning, said taking into account an estimated total revenue of RM10,513 billion and a total proposed ordinary expenditure of RM10.391 billion, the proposed budget was expected to generate a surplus of RM122 million.

“The state will continue with its expansionary fiscal policy with six key strategies and tapping into a new major revenue stream, including a five per cent sales tax on petroleum products effective January 1,” he said when tabling the Supply (2019) Bill at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly sitting here today.

He said next year’s development expenditure estimates took into account high impact and people centric projects, particularly in the rural areas; commitment to complete the implementation of ongoing projects; capacity to implement projects and reprioritisation of expenditure undertaken by the federal government to rationalise its fiscal position.

“For 2019, a sum of RM9.073 billion is proposed to finance various programmes and projects under the Eleventh Malaysia Plan, including socio-economic and rural transformation initiatives, walkabout projects and initiatives under the Digital Economy,” Abang Johari said.

Of the total provision for development expenditure, he said RM8.813 billion would be funded by the state while RM260 million is to be financed by the federal government through reimbursable loans and grants.

He said the sales tax levied on petroleum products – crude oil, natural gas, liquefied natural gas, chemical based fertilisers and gas to liquid products – was the state’s rights as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

On the recently tabled 2019 Budget, he said the allocation for Sarawak of RM4.346 billion was only 7.94% of the total development budget as compared to RM4.336 billion in 2018.

“The 2019 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% of the federal allocation,” he added.

For 2018, a total allocation of RM8.2 billion was announced for the state budget, comprising RM5.745 billion for development expenditure and RM2.4816 for operating expenditure.