KUCHING: Sarawak's budget does not depend on its reserves as it has steady revenue sources, says Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, disputing Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng's prediction that the state could go bankrupt in three years.
He said the state government's budget had recorded a surplus for many years and was development-biased.
He said the funds were mainly allocated for development compared to operating expenditures, as well as focusing on productive sectors.
"We're not going to dip into our reserves as we have new streams of revenue, including the imposition of a sales tax on petroleum products for exports.
"Our reserves will remain strong.
"This shows that the state has managed its finances effectively and in a prudent manner," Awang Tengah said when opening the Sarawak domestic investment seminar here on Wednesday (June 26).
As such, he said Sarawak would not go bankrupt within three years as predicted by Lim.
Lim had said on June 21 that Sarawak's reserves of RM30bil would be used up in three years if the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government maintained an annual budget of RM11bil.
Awang Tengah also said Sarawak had received a clean bill of financial health from the Auditor-General for the past 17 years, while international rating agencies Moody's and Standard and Poor's had reaffirmed the state's investment credit ratings at A3 and A- respectively.
"The statement by the Finance Minister is unwarranted and unnecessary. It is more political in nature.
"Sarawak's contribution to the economic development of the country is quite significant.
"By right, we should be working together to attract more investments for the good of the country," he added.