Sarawak CM says no reason big budget will lead state to bankruptcy

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today asserted that Sarawak will not go bankrupt because his administration has excellent financial management and diverse sources of revenue. — Picture by Sulok Tawie
Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today asserted that Sarawak will not go bankrupt because his administration has excellent financial management and diverse sources of revenue. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

MUKAH, June 22 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today asserted that Sarawak will not go bankrupt because his administration has excellent financial management and diverse sources of revenue.

He said he was surprised why DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng was talking about the huge state Budget, but failed to mention the sources of revenue.

“We have income from dividends from investments, oil and gas royalty and sales tax on petroleum and petroleum products,” Utusan Borneo Online quoted him as saying at the joint Gawai Dayak and Hari Raya gathering and the launch of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) Zone 10 at Panjang Kalang longhouse, Bayan Ulu, near here.

Abang Johari was responding to Lim’s claim last night that Sarawak would go bankrupt within three years if the state government continued to allocate RM11 billion in the state Budget, potentially wiping out the RM30 billion reserves in the process.

The chief minister said GPS is a responsible state government and would be prudent in the management of the State Budget.

He said the state is expected to receive about RM3.84 billion in revenue from sales tax on petroleum and petroleum products this year.

“This does not take into account our other rights over oil and gas which will be announced later this year.”

Tabling the 2019 State Budget last year, Abang Johari, who is also the state finance and economic planning minister, had said the state’s revenue was expected to breach the RM10.50 billion for this year.

Separately in Kota Samarahan today, Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) vice-president Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah lashed out at Lim for making such a statement when he holds the position as the federal finance minister.

“Without Sarawak, Malaysia can go bankrupt without any sources of revenue from Sarawak. Lim should know this. It is hoped that we will not be influenced by his claim,” Utusan Borneo quoted Karim as saying at the Asajaya district-level joint Gawai Dayak and Hari Raya gathering at Kampung Tanjong Apong here.

Karim, who is also the state tourism, arts, culture, youth and sports minister, said Lim should know that an international rating agency had accorded Sarawak as having good credit rating in the financial management in the last 15 years.

He said if the state financial position is not prudently managed, the state government would not have accumulated reserves of over RM30 billion.

“Although Sarawak only received 5 per cent oil and gas royalty from Petronas while the remaining 95 per cent goes to the federal government, we are able to keep our money until it reaches RM33 billion now,” he said.

Karim said the state government does not depend on its reserves to prepare for the state Budget because it has other sources of revenue to rely upon.