Sabah tables surplus budget for 2020

Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal shows the 2020 Sabah Budget which depends largely on income from oil, gas and palm oil.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal tabled a RM4.14 billion surplus budget today, relying on oil, gas and palm oil royalties to form the bulk of the income.

Tabling the 2020 state budget here, Shafie, who is also state finance minister, said the government estimated a revenue collection of RM4.19 billion, with a surplus of RM48.55 million.

“This shows that the state government’s financial position remains healthy and stable,” he said during his 2.5-hour speech.

The Senallang assemblyman said petroleum royalty is expected to remain the highest contributor next year, with total revenue estimated at RM1.7 billion.

“This estimate is based on royalty payment received from Petronas in 2019 amounting to RM1.703 billion, which is the highest amount received in the history of Sabah.”

Shafie said the state sales tax on crude palm oil (CPO) will be a major contributor to the state’s revenue next year.

However, he said the price of this commodity had declined to RM1,900 per tonne, affecting the state’s sales tax collection.

“Next year, the price of CPO is expected to reach at least RM2,200 per tonne, with production of not less than five million tonnes. Based on this, collection from sales tax on CPO is estimated to be RM825 million.”

The sales tax on lottery tickets next year is projected to be the same as this year’s RM60 million.

However, there will be a drastic drop in tax collected from slot machines — from RM18 million to RM1.5 million next year.

This follows the state’s policy to curb gambling through slot machines, Shafie said.

Meanwhile, Shafie said the state is still not satisfied with talks with the federal government to restore Sabah’s rights, as agreed in the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

However, Putrajaya’s decision to raise the annual special grant payment gradually from RM26.7 million at present to RM53.4 million by 2020, and RM106.8 million over the next five years, indicates negotiations have begun to bear fruit.

On expenditure, he said the state will allocate RM1.5 billion for infrastructure and public facilities development next year, proving the government’s determination to improve roads, water and electricity supply.

Departments under the state’s agriculture ministry will be given an allocation of RM459 million next year.

Shafie said RM237 million will be channeled to the tourism sector to help Sabah achieve the target of 4.18 million visitors next year. This is expected to contribute some RM8.96 billion in tourism receipts.

For conservation, the government is allocating RM62.90 million to the Wildlife Department, Sabah Parks and the Environmental Protection Department.

Some RM116 million will be granted to the Forestry Department to manage and develop sustainable forests.

Shafie said the government will increase the special allocation for each state assemblyman from RM1 million to RM1.1 million next year.

“The state government has also agreed to provide RM300,000 for each appointed elected representative for touchpoint programmes, which has never been provided before.”

Shafie added that Sabah had also agreed to provide a special payment of RM500 to all state civil servants, to be paid next January.