KUCHING: Sarawak, which has recorded budget surpluses for several years, has steady sources of revenue, especially the imposition of the sales tax on petroleum products for exports.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said this was a new revenue stream for the state, which was not entirely dependent on its reserves.
“Sarawak is politically stable, financially well managed and continues to attract both domestic and foreign investors. This is due to our business friendly policies and ability to provide modern infrastructure, as well as competitive power and water tariffs,” he said when officiating the Sarawak Domestic Investment Seminar here today.
He said, therefore, the recent statement by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng that Sarawak might go bankrupt in three years was unwarranted and would affect the sentiment of foreign investors, in particular to the state and country.
Awang Tengah, who is also Industrial and Entrepreneur Development Minister, is optimistic that Sarawak would perform better this year as a preferred investment destination and achieve a higher worth of total investments from last year’s RM8.6 billion.
He said there were numerous indications that domestic and foreign investors were looking at Sarawak, especially in the manufacturing sector, based on the many memorandums of agreement (MoAs) and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) already signed with the interested parties.
Sarawak ranked among the top three states after Johor (RM30.5 billion) and Selangor (RM18.9 billion) in terms of investment in 2018.
International rating agencies such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have also reaffirmed the state’s investment credit ratings at A3 and A- respectively.
Awang Tengah said as a result of development initiatives such as the Sarawak Industrial Plan, the state was able to attract huge investments into various industrial sectors such as the oil and gas industries in Bintulu, high tech industries in Kuching, shipbuilding industries in Sibu and Miri, as well the energy-based industries.
‘In an effort to embrace the digital economy, the Sarawak government has set aside RM1 billion to upgrade the telecommunications infrastructure and other infrastructure to establish good connectivity, as well as stimulate economic growth in the rural regions,” he added.
Apart from the RM16.48 million funded by the federal government for the construction of the Pan Borneo Highway, he said the Sarawak government was allocating RM5 billion to upgrade the coastal roads and bridges, RM6 billion for the Second Trunk Road, RM2.8 billion for water supply and RM2.37 billion for the Rural Electrification Scheme.
An allocation of RM1.5 billion each was also provided for the Upper Rajang Development Agency (URDA), Highland Development Authority (HAD) and Northern Region Development Authority (NRDA).
However, Awang Tengah said Sarawak had a relatively small market and it was necessary for local small and medium enterprises to tap a bigger customer base through e-commerce and digital platforms.
Earlier, Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) deputy chief executive officer Arham Abd. Rahman said, as of 2018, 770 projects worth RM82.7 billion had been implemented in Sarawak.
These projects created over 104,000 employment opportunities in the state, mainly in the natural gas, chemical and chemical products, basic metal products, electronics and electrical products, wood and wood products sectors. - Bernama