KUCHING, May 17 ― Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh is seeking answers from several ministries in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) which starts sitting today.
The state Opposition leader said in a statement he is seeking an explanation from Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg on how Sarawak could suddenly rocket to an average of eight per cent gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate when for the past few years, its GDP growth had been consistently below five per cent.
“Under the Sarawak Post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030, a key target is for Sarawak to achieve an annual average growth of eight per cent as claimed by the Premier of Sarawak.
“Has the Premier taken into consideration the possible regional and worldwide economic turbulence and financial instabilities when computing our growth rates in the years leading up to 2030?” he asked.
According to him, Sarawak’s GDP growth rate was 2.1 per cent in 2020, 2.5 per cent in 2019, 2.2 per cent in 2018, 4.5 per cent in 2017, and 2.4 per cent in 2016.
Wong, who is Bawang Assan assemblyman, is also seeking a reply from Abang Johari, who is also Finance and New Economy Minister, on whether the advance repayment of the state’s public loan of RM1 billion with the federal government has been fully utilised for the rebuilding and upgrading of the state’s dilapidated schools as announced in his budget speech on November 13, 2019.
“How many of the dilapidated schools were involved and had all the intended rebuilding and upgrading works been completed satisfactorily?
“We were told by the Chief Minister (now Premier of Sarawak) in his budget speech that the first tranche of RM350 million had been paid in 2019 and the balance of RM650 million would be paid in the year 2020,” he said.
He also hoped to find out from Abang Johari whether Sarawak is going to receive the same increase of federal annual grants like its neighbouring state of Sabah.
“On February 16, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili announced that Sabah would receive a five-time increase in federal annual grants, ending a five-decade fight on claims by the Sabah government.
“When is Sarawak going to receive the same, if not better financial treatment from the federal government?” he asked.
Wong also hoped to find answers from Second Finance and New Economy Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas on what sales tax (SST) rates are imposed on Petronas in 2021 and subsequent years in view that the Sarawak government has agreed in a joint statement with the national oil and gas company on May 8, 2020 to reduce the SST rates in phases, as well as how much of the SST was paid by Petronas for 2021.
He is also asking Uggah, who is also Deputy Premier of Sarawak, on how much of the state’s reserves had been transferred into the Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS).
“What are the so-called strategic infrastructure projects that DBOS have financed and how much? Can DBOS give back the money deposited by the state government with short notice as what can be done with other commercial banks?
“Has DBOS after four years of operations been able to contribute to the state’s coffers via payment of dividends and interest?” he enquired.
In addition to fielding questions to the Ministry of Finance and New Economy, Wong also sought to find out from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Ports Development on the progress of projects in Bawang Assan constituency which was launched by its former minister, the late Tan Sri Datuk Amar James Jemut Masing.
“What is the progress of work projects of RM304 million (RM104 million for Package One and RM200 million for Package Two) for road connectivity in Bawang Assan constituency?
“Will the projects be completed by 2024 as promised by the late minister?” he asked Uggah, who is now in charge of the ministry as well. ― Borneo Post