KUCHING, Feb 3 — Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today said that expenditures under the state budget for infrastructure is expected to spur the growth of the state’s economy to 5 per cent this year compared to 4.6 per cent last year.
In his Chinese New Year’s message, Abang Johari said he was confident that the state’s economy will grow at an encouraging rate in the next few years, with policies geared towards growth and expansion.
“Sarawak’s public expenditure for infrastructure development is at a record high this year and the few years ahead,” the chief minister said.
He said the state government is not cutting down on projects but rather it is doing the reverse as it has the means to finance them by imposing a 5 per cent tax on oil and gas exports.
“The expanding economy means there will be more work for our contractors and consultants, more business for our traders, right down to small retailers in our towns all over the state,” he added.
He said the state government is spending within its means based on the revenue that the state is expected to collect, and not using its reserves.
“Be assured that our economy is a well-managed economy and we have been prudent in our spending and for this reason, we have a substantial amount of reserves and received a clean bill of health from the Auditor-General for many years,” he said.
Abang Johari, who is also the state finance and economic planning minister, said investors, notably from China and South Korea are coming in to support of the state’s industrialisation programmes, particularly at the Samalaju Industrial Park in Bintulu and the Samajaya High-Tech Park here.
“They know that we are politically stable, our policies are consistent and well-defined while our renewal energy capability is enormous,” he said, adding that Sthe arawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) development area has recorded about RM80 billion worth of both public and private investments.
He said through the SCORE Development Plan, the state has been forecasted to generate about RM334 billion in terms of investments.
“When the SCORE Development Plan is fully realised by the year 2030, it is expected to create 1.6 million new job opportunities, especially for young Sarawakians,” he added.
The chief minister also reminded Sarawakians that unity is of utmost importance to their common good and overall well-being, saying that respect for one’s religion, customs and opinions have been the basis of the state’s racial unity and religious harmony.
“However, of late, the spirit of our brotherhood and social cohesion has been somewhat challenged in the face of the onslaught of new and vicious politicking culture from outside of Sarawak.
“Knowingly or unknowingly, we’ve began to cast doubt and aspersion upon each other, which if left unchecked, would sow the seed of distrust among us.
“I pray the day would never come that a serious division among us would justify others to come and take control of us,” he said.
Abang Johari said in the quest to strengthen Sarawak’s economy and upgrade its infrastructure, the people must not lose sight of the struggle to regain the lost rights according to the Federal Constitution and Malaysia Agreement 1963.
“This is the wish of all Sarawakians, which must be respected as discontent among the people of Sarawak is not healthy for the well-being of the nation,” he said.