KUCHING: Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem says this year’s Sarawak budget will include more for welfare.
This, he said, was possible because the state’s revenue had increased, and to also reflect higher cost of living. “Since Sarawak’s revenue has risen slightly, in the coming budget in November, we intend to add to welfare payments for the poor,” Adenan said.
“How much? We don’t know yet. Maybe just RM1 or RM2 extra,” he quipped, drawing laughing from the audience, during a Buka Puasa gathering hosted by the federal Welfare, Women and Community Development Ministry.
“We’ll increase because, it’s true, things cost more (due to) Goods and Services Tax and others. As such, welfare payment needs to increase too. In the new year, you’ll get higher welfare. I urge the Federal Government to follow our lead and also increase its federal welfare handouts.”
Last year, the Sarawak government paid out RM175mil in welfare for 57,330 recipients. In the first quarter of this year, the state government spent roughly RM45mil on welfare. Sarawak’s budget is among the largest of states in Malaysia. Last year, the State Assembly passed a RM6.36bil budget, while in May, the assembly approved another RM500mil in development funds.
At the same event held at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching on Monday, Adenan called on the rich to do more for the poor.
“In this month of fasting, we should give alms; reach out to less fortunate members of the community. Don’t just support yourself and pretend you cannot see the poor. Rich people should help the poor, and not only during Ramadan, which is why the state government will increase welfare assistance,” he said.
Among those at the dinner were children from orphanages and members of various non-governmental bodies.