Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem says the state is facing its first budget deficit in 14 years, mainly due to a slowing economy.
Other factors that contributed to the deficit, estimated to be at RM385 million, were the weakening of the Malaysian market and currency, lower commodity prices as well as higher cost of living and doing business.
“In order for us to sustain our socio-economic development, we must strive to broaden our economic base, enhance our knowledge, upgrade our skills and be more effective and innovative,” Adenan said at last night’s Sarawak Civil Service Night of Excellence.
“At the same time, we must remain vigilant and agile in dealing with external challenges and market uncertainties,” Adenan told an audience of about 1,000 civil servants.
Also present was state secretary Morshidi Ghani and Deputy Chief Minister Abang Johari.
At last month’s state assembly sitting, Adenan presented an RM8.1 billion budget for 2017 with an allocation of RM5.9 billion for development purposes.
To narrow the urban-rural gap, close to RM3 billion will be set aside for rural infrastructure, up from RM2.35 billion in 2015 and RM2.65 billion in 2016.
Last night Adenan said there was a “dire need” to narrow the development gap between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia.
“When you travel to the Peninsular you can observe how much more developed they are in terms of infrastructure.
“Our Pan Borneo Highway is a right measure to narrow this gap, although much more has to be done. I pointed out in the last (state assembly) sitting how pitifully insufficient the Federal budget allocation to Sarawak is,” Adenan said.
He added that the state government will still pursue increasing its share of the royalties of oil and gas extracted from its shores.
“Since our oil and mineral resources earnings are shared with other states, it is only logical for us to be allocated a fairer share as we are the main producer of these resources for the country,” Adenan
“Negotiations (with Putrajaya) on devolution of powers will continue to be pursued by us in order to find amicable solutions that are acceptable to both parties.”
“This is a far better approach than taking a confrontational stance as nothing much can be gained by taking the latter approach,” Adenan said.
In May 2014, the Sarawak Assembly unanimously voted in favour of a resolution to request that Putrajaya increase the oil royalty from 5% to 20%.
A motion on the increase was originally tabled by Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Kota Sentosa) but an amended motion, which included seeking more development grants from Putrajaya, aside from the royalty, was subsequently tabled by the ruling state Barisan Nasional.
More recently, Adenan was criticised by the opposition and pro-autonomy advocacy groups for not going through with a plan to table a motion to reclaim Sarawak’s rights.
Source : Richard T.W. @ FMT Online