Sarawak should get at least 10% of national development funds, says Abang Jo

KUCHING: Sarawak wants at least 10% of the annual national development budget to be allocated to the state, says Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The Sarawak Premier said the allocation of RM5.4bil announced in the recent tabling of Budget 2023 was insufficient for the state’s needs.

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“This amount represents only 5.7% of the total federal development budget of RM95bil for next year and is obviously far from enough to meet the development needs and address the imbalances between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia,” he said when tabling the 2023 state Budget in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly on Monday (Nov 21).

Abang Johari added that Sarawak contributed significantly to the nation’s economic growth and the Federal Government’s coffers through collection of taxes and other revenue, especially from oil and gas.

“(As such) I call upon the new Federal Government to allocate at least 10% of the total annual development budget to Sarawak.

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“I would also urge that this allocation be directly disbursed to the state trust account to expedite the implementation of federal-funded projects here,” he said.

Abang Johari also said the Sarawak government had submitted its formula for the review of special grants to the state, under Article 112D of the Federal Constitution, to Putrajaya.

Negotiations for the special grant had been pursued through a joint consultative committee under the Special Council on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“Thus, I implore the Federal Government to give due and serious consideration to our proposal that is fair and equitable to the state,” he said.

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In addition, Abang Johari reiterated that the state government would continue to fight for Sarawak’s rights, including more autonomy, under MA63.

He said Malaysia’s federal system was not a one-sided affair but depended on the fulfilment of obligations by the signatory states towards one another.

“For the sake of national unity and the future of this Federation, I urge the new Federal Government to listen to the loud and clear voices of Sarawakians who have given a resounding mandate to the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government.

“For us to maintain cohesion and harmony and to build a better future for all our citizens, it is crucial that the federal system be strengthened,” he said.