KUCHING, Nov 6 — The state government will not utilise its over RM30 billion reserves to fund development proposals under the state Budget 2019, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing said today.
He said the proposals will instead be financed by revenue derived from various sources, including the 5 per cent sales tax imposed on petroleum products.
He said the pro-development Budget, which Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg tabled in the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly yesterday, will allow the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Transportation to provide rural areas with much-needed infrastructure.
He said most of this will involve the construction of roads and bridges.
State Opposition leader Chong Chieng Jen said Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) supports the state’s initiative to impose sales tax on all petroleum products so long as it is legally and constitutionally right.
He said he wondered why the state government took so long to impose the sales tax when it had the right do so under the Sales Tax Ordinance 1998.
Chong, the assemblyman for Kota Sentosa, also said it is ironic that Abang Johari should say Sarawak was neglected by the previous federal government.
He said the chief minister and other Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) ministers should be aware of the lack of rural infrastructure since they were very much part of the Barisan Nasional coalition that ruled the country for over five decades.
“Now that they feel they are under threat of losing power as the state government, only now they step up efforts to uplift the development of rural communities,” said Chong, who is also the deputy minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs.