MIRI: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has denied that Putrajaya had been unfair to Sarawak when announcing the 2020 Budget, saying the state is among those receiving the highest allocations.
Lim said Sarawak will receive RM4.4 billion in development expenditure for 621 projects next year compared with RM4.3 billion for 569 projects this year.
Opening Sarawak DAP’s 19th annual convention here today, he said the federal government was concerned with Sarawak’s development and proposed to increase the special grants under Article 112D of the Federal Constitution to the state to RM32 million effective next year, from RM16 million a year since 1969.
“It is the federal government’s hope to increase the amount up to RM64 million in five years,” Lim, who is also the DAP secretary-general, said.
He said the allocation for Sarawak under the 2020 Budget included RM400 million for the repair of dilapidated schools.
“The federal government has taken steps to share 50% of the tourism revenue collected from the respective states, with RM2.6 million given to Sarawak in March from tourism revenue collected in 2018,” he said.
On the proposed setting up of the Village Community Management Council (MPKK) involving almost 6,000 longhouses and villages in Sarawak next year, Lim said the finance ministry was prepared to provide the funds for the purpose.
He said the federal government agreed with the setting up of the council to prepare for the coming state election, scheduled in one-and-a-half-years’ time.
He said the MPKK would facilitate the channelling of funds by the federal government for implementation of projects in the rural areas.
State govt rapped for stance on federal programmes
Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen expressed disappointment over the state government’s apparent “refusal” to cooperate in the implementation of initiatives undertaken by the federal government for the people of the state.
Chong, who is also the deputy domestic trade and consumer affairs minister, said the latest incident was when the Gabungan Parti Sarawak-led state government refused to extend its cooperation during the launch of the “Buy Malaysia Products” campaign in Kuching recently.
“We were trying to rent mobile toilets from the Padawan Municipal Council (PMC) because the event was held in their jurisdiction but we were told none was available,” he said in his address at the convention.
He said they then tried to get help from the Kuching South City Council (MBKS) and Kuching North City Hall (DBKU) but received the same response from both.
“It was a federal government programme and not organised by DAP but the three local councils rejected our request for mobile toilets,” he said.
Chong also claimed that GPS leaders were trying to sabotage the proposed formation of the MPKK.
“Not only is GPS trying to stop such initiatives but its leaders are now spreading fake news to smear MPKK programmes,” he said.
On the 12th Sarawak state election expected to be held either next year or 2021, Chong hoped that the party would stay united and focus on its agenda to move forward as the government.
15 resolutions adopted
Meanwhile, in a resolution, Sarawak DAP urged the state government to reform the public transportation system by acquiring all public service companies in Kuching City, Sibu, Bintulu and Miri City.
The resolution, which was among 15 adopted at the convention, called for free public bus services in the first five years of its implementation.
The convention also pledged its support for the setting up of the MPKK, and the implementation of the fuel subsidy scheme by maintaining the ceiling price of RM2.08 per litre in Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan effective Jan 1, 2020.
In addition, the party wants the state government to implement a fair and equitable land policy for all by guaranteeing rights such as renewal of land leases and protecting the land rights of natives.