KUCHING: Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg (pic, centre) has refuted DAP's claim that Sarawak will go bankrupt in three years under the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition.
The Chief Minister said the state had its own means of raising funds for its annual budget averaging RM10bil for this year and next.
"Someone said we will go bankrupt in three years, but Sarawakians are not paloi (stupid). For two years consecutively, we've allocated a budget of RM10bil.
"This may have come as a shock to certain people, but we have our own way and we have constitutional rights on taxation.
"So we impose sales tax on exports produced in Sarawak, including oil and gas," he said when opening the inaugural GPS convention at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching on Saturday (Nov 16).
The state's 2019 budget was a record RM11.9bil while the budget for next year, which was approved this week by the Sarawak Legislative Assembly, totals RM9.891bil.
Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen had said on Wednesday (Nov 13) that the GPS state government was "heading down the path of bankrupting Sarawak within three years" if it continued with the "reckless spending" listed in Abang Johari's budget speech.
According to Chong, the total approved expenditure in the 2020 state budget was RM9.7bil while the state government proposed to spend RM22.5bil next year, with the additional funds to be raised by borrowing from state-owned Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS) in the so-called alternative financing model.
"At this rate, in no time the state government will incur more debts than its reserve funds, and soon, if left unchecked, this will snowball to an amount that is beyond the state government's ability to repay," he said in a statement.
But Abang Johari said DBOS was set up as the state's financial institution to provide much-needed funding for development.
He said the state needed to generate its own revenue as the Pakatan Harapan Federal Government had failed to fulfil its manifesto promises of increasing the oil and gas royalty to 20% and giving back to Sarawak 50% of taxes collected in the state.
"We will use the alternative funding to build roads and bridges and provide water and electricity supply.
"Bridges are not built in one day. The Batang Lupar bridge (for example) will take at least 48 months, so we will make progressive payments over this period.
"The amount will be factored into our annual budget. It's very simple.
"Sarawak will not go bankrupt as long as GPS is the state government," Abang Johari said.
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