Our records show Sarawak has arrears, Guan Eng insists

Lim Guan Eng flanked by Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa.

PUTRAJAYA: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng today defended his claim that Sarawak owes the federal government RM50 million, despite the state’s denial of any such outstanding arrears.

“Our records show that there are arrears. In November, the arrears stood at RM50 million and at the end of the year, Dec 31, it was RM40 million.

“The records can be seen and reconciled. So according to our records, Sarawak has arrears,” he told reporters after presenting RM25 million for registered “sekolah pondok” to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa here today.

Lim was asked to comment on Sarawak’s statement that enough had been set aside in its annual budget each year to repay federal loans, which amounted to RM2.38 billion as at Dec 31 last year.

It said federal loans were paid in a timely manned, based on repayment schedules as stipulated in the agreement between the state and federal governments.

It also rebutted Lim’s remarks two days ago that the state government should first repay its debt to the federal government instead of demanding its share of the tourism tax revenue.

“Sarawak has no outstanding arrears in loan repayment. This has been reported by the auditor-general in its annual report and presented to the National Finance Council,” the Sarawak government said in a statement.

Lim reportedly said the state government still owed the federal government over RM2.5 billion, with arrears close to RM50 million.

Lim also said the accounts for last year’s tourism tax collection would be finalised soon, with 50% to be distributed to the state governments in the first quarter of this year.

Today, Lim continued to hit out at Sarawak over its claims of discrimination, that the federal government had paid Sabah its tourism tax revenue but not Sarawak.

He said Sabah had denied receiving a 50% share of the tourism tax revenue from the federal government.

“Sabah has also denied Sarawak’s claims that the federal government is playing favourites by paying Sabah and not Sarawak. That (what Sarawak said) is a complete lie. It is a false allegation.

“So will the Sarawak government admit that they are wrong? (I don’t think) they will admit they are wrong. But that is Sarawak,” he said, attributing this in part to the Sarawak state elections which are due in two years.