KUCHING: Sarawak is going strong as it has been aggressive in implementing development projects this year and for many more years to generate more work and business opportunities for contractors, consultants, traders and retailers across the state.
In fact, Sarawak’s public expenditure for infrastructure development “is at a record high this year and the few years ahead”, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said.
“We are not cutting down on projects but rather we are doing the reverse as we have the means to finance them (projects) by imposing the five per cent (sales) tax on oil and gas.
“The expanding economy means there will be more work for our contractors and consultants, more businesses for our traders, right down to small retailers in our towns all over the state,” he said in his Lunar New Year 2019 message yesterday.
Abang Johari expressed confidence that Sarawak’s economy will grow at an encouraging rate for many more years to come given the state’s policy being “geared towards growth and expansion”.
He said the state’s economy is estimated to grow at five per cent this year compared to 4.6 per cent last year despite the economic challenges at the national and global level. In Sarawak, he said the state government is spending within its means based on the revenue it expects to collect.
“We are not even using the state’s reserves. Rest assured that our economy is a well-managed economy and we have been prudent in our spending.
“And for this reason we have a substantial amount of reserves, receiving a ‘Clean Bill of Health’ from the Auditor-General for many years already,” he pointed out.
Abang Johari said investors from China and South Korea ‘keep coming in support of our industrialisation programme particularly at Samalaju Industrial Park and Sama Jaya High Tech Park’.
He believed that this is because ‘they know that we are politically stable, our policies are consistent and well-defined while our renewable energy capability is enormous’.
To date, Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) has recorded about RM80 billion worth of both public and private investments, he disclosed.
“Through the SCORE Development Plan, the state is forecast to generate about RM334 billion in terms of investments. When the SCORE Development Plan is fully realised by 2030, it is expected to create 1.6 million new job opportunities especially for young Sarawakians.”
He said the success of the Sama Jaya High Tech Park is also encouraging with total investments by companies exceeding RM12 billion.
He added that more foreign companies have indicated their readiness to invest at the park.
“Our economic transformation programme on other fronts, such as agriculture, will create more opportunities for Sarawak to develop new products and find new markets for the products.
“The potential of our agriculture is enormous and we must capitalise on this in order to become a net exporter of food. Quality durians, pineapples and rambutans are some of our products that can fetch good market overseas,” asserted the Chief Minister.
Abang Johari said Sarawak must not lose sight of its struggle to regain its lost rights within the context of the Federal Constitution and Malaysia Agreement 1963 amidst its quest to strengthen its economy.
“This is the wish of all Sarawakians, which must be respected as discontentment among the people of Sarawak is not healthy for the well-being of the nation.
Sarawakians must be united in this struggle regardless of our political stance.
The spirit of ‘Sarawak First’ must not be mellowed down just because of our political affiliation with others who are treating Sarawak ‘like a stepson’.
“It is not an easy road ahead for us and that is why Sarawakians must speak and act with one voice,” he added.
In Sarawak, he said people are free to practise their culture and profess their beliefs, and Sarawakians resist elements and ideologies that are against the spirit of unity and brotherhood.
He was delighted to note that Sarawakians celebrate their diversity and find common ground in their differences.
He also took pride to declare that ‘Sarawak has been a place where people can understand and respect one another and be able to live in a society where unity is of utmost importance to our common good and overall well-being’.
“Of late, the spirit of our brotherhood and social cohesion has been somewhat challenged in the face of onslaught of new and vicious politicking culture from outside Sarawak.
“Knowingly or unknowingly, we began to cast doubt and aspersion upon each other, which if left unchecked, would sow the seed of distrust among us.
“I pray the day would never come that a serious division among us would justify others to come and take control of us,” he said.
Abang Johari took the opportunity to wish all Chinese in Sarawak a happy Lunar New Year.
“In Chinese tradition, it’s a time to honour the deities and ancestors, and a time to bring the family together and is a celebration of luck and good fortune for the coming year.
“May the New Year bring prosperity, unity and good health to all of us in our beloved Land of the Hornbills. Gong Xi Fa Cai,” he added.[Source: “More work, business openings” published by BorneoPost Online]
Photo Credits: BorneoPost Online