KUCHING: Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud announced that the state had recorded an income surplus for several years in a row and this had resulted in RM22 billion of state reserves last year.
Now, the State PKR wants the massive surplus to be utilised for the state’s needs, especially for infrastructure and public amenities in the rural areas.
“The huge surplus is unprecedented. It contradicts the reality of life in Sarawak. There is the dire need for funding for Sarawak’s schools, clinics and roads”, its chief Baru Bian said.
He told the antdaily he had suggested in the state assembly that the State Government should step in when federal funding for schools, hospitals and clinics in rural areas was insufficient.
“Knowing very well that Sarawak is very rich in resources, this is the very issue I want to put to the State Government.
Allocate the surplus for public amenities and infrastructure such as schools, clinics and roads.
“The government has to “walk the talk” after making so many promises to the rural folk,” he said.
Baru noted the RM500 million allocation from the Federal Government for the Pan Borneo Highway but asked what should be done for the rural roads.
“Now I challenge the state to allocate the RM22 billion surplus to improve and build more roads in rural Sarawak. Don’t wait for the Federal Government to take the responsibility,” he said.
Incidentally, the cost of the 2,239 km highway in Sarawak and Sabah (to be built in stages from 2011 to 2025) is RM22 billion. The long period has drawn the ire of politicians and citizens from both states.
In reference to the allocation of federal funds to Sabah and Sarawak under Budget 2014 tabled on Oct 25, he opined that the two East Malaysian states were only getting “peanuts”.
He said Sabah and Sarawak had helped to form Malaysia and have rich natural resources.
“We contributed a lot to the Federal Government over the past 50 years but received very little in return. I think we have been taken for a ride,” Baru added.
~ The Ant Daily