Abang Johari: Sarawak to elect its financial secretary to sit on LHDN board

Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg (left) looking at an artist's impression of the new Hikmah Complex to be built in Petra Jaya, Kuching. - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE / The Star

KUCHING: Sarawak will nominate the state financial secretary as its representative to sit on the Inland Revenue Board's (LHDN) board of directors, says Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

This comes after the Federal Cabinet approved a proposed amendment to the Inland Revenue Act 1995 to include a representative each from Sabah and Sarawak as members of the LHDN board.

"I would like to thank the Finance Minister for responding positively to Sarawak's request on this matter.

"I have said before that the person we will appoint is a professional. We want to nominate the state financial secretary to be a member of the board of directors," Abang Johari told reporters after the earth-breaking ceremony for the new Hikmah Complex in Petra Jaya here on Friday (Oct 7).

On Thursday (Oct 6), Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the Federal Cabinet's proposed amendment would institutionalise representatives from Sabah and Sarawak on the IRB board, allowing civil servants from both states to be appointed.

He said the proposed amendment, which would be tabled in Parliament for approval, was decided by the Cabinet on Sept 30 as a follow-up action to the Sabah and Sarawak governments' requests during a meeting of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) Special Council.

Abang Johari said having a representative on the LHDN board would allow Sarawak to know the facts and figures of the nation's revenue, including the amount of Sarawak's contribution.

This in turn would enable the Federal and state governments to come up with a "reasonable formula" to determine the amount of the annual special grants for Sarawak under Article 112D of the Federal Constitution.

"If the national economy is not doing well, we don't expect the Federal Government to give us a higher grant.

"We must be together in the good and bad times. What we don't want is to be forgotten when times are good.

"So when the nation's economy is doing well and we know the figures, we can tell them that this is the collection from the state and we want a certain percentage to come to Sarawak," Abang Johari said.

Asked if he expected a large allocation for Sarawak in Budget 2023, Abang Johari said he had to be practical.

"Our economy is up and down at the moment. As I said earlier, we need to be together even in the bad times.

"Of course we would like a large allocation as Sarawak has a lot of development projects," he said, adding that the state government was currently funding various projects including the construction of a coastal road and water and electricity supply.

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