KOTA KINABALU, Nov 15 — The Sabah state government has tabled a surplus budget of RM48.55 million for next year, slightly less than the previous budget tabled by the new Parti Warisan Sabah administrationlast year.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal who is also the state finance minister said the surplus stands on the back of RM4.14 billion allocated for development expenditure, while revenue is estimated at RM4.19 billion.
“This shows that the state government’s financial position remains healthy and stable,” he said during his 2.5 hour tabling speech at the State Legislative Assembly sitting here.
The projected revenue of RM4.192 million for 2020 is a fall of RM72.6 million. or 1.71 per cent compared to 2019’s RM4.265 billion.
Tax revenue, which consists of 24.6 per cent of the total revenue is expected to bring in some RM1.03 billion while non-tax revenue will bring in 64.3 per cent or RM2.674 billion. The remaining non-revenue receipts stands at RM463.3 million or 11.05 per cent.
“Petroleum royalty is expected to remain the highest contributor in year 2020 total revenue estimates which accounts for 40.55 per cent with a projected collection of 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,” he said.
Sales tax on crude palm oil is the second highest contributor in the tax revenue category, making up some 19.68 per cent or RM825 million, a slight increase from last budget’s RM750 million projection.
Sales tax on slot machines which brought in RM18 million last year, is expected to drop to RM1.5 million following the state’s policy to stop slot machine licenses.
On expenditure, Shafie said that RM1.5 billion was allocated for infrastructure and public facilities in 2020 while RM62.9 million was allocated to environmental agencies Sabah Parks, Sabah Wildlife Department and the Environmental Protection Department to protect and conserve Sabah’s natural environment.
The budget also allocated a 10 per cent increase in allocation for elected assemblymen from RM1 million to RM1.1 million while appointed state assemblymen get an additional RM300,000.
Shafie also announced an RM500 special payment to all state civil servants to be paid in January 2020.
On the current negotiations with the federal government to restore Sabah’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, Shafie said that the state government is still not satisfied with the progress to date, but indicated that the increased Special Grants from RM26.7 million at present to RM53.4 million by year 2020 and RM106 million over the next five years was a positive indication.
“We have agreed to accept the new rates, but will continue to appeal for a higher rate since it has not been reviewed since 1969, which is 50 years ago,” he said.
Later when speaking to reporters about the decrease in budget income, Shafie said it had to account from a reduction in oil palm and timber income due to a drop in commodity prices and shift in focus for the timber industry.
“There is an effort ongoing that focuses on downstreaming and also a shift into the agricultural sector. We may not see it now but in the future we will feel it when the investments come to fruition and more people get jobs.
“There is no point in just the state getting the income but the people are still poor, so we have to find a balance for the wellbeing of the people. We cannot rely on timber and palm oil anymore. This will take more time, but it will be more sustainable,” he said.