KUCHING: Sarawak’s economy has grown substantially in the past five decades with real gross domestic product (GDP) growth soaring 110 times from RM527 million in 1963 to RM58 billion in 2013.
At the same time, the state’s GDP per capita has jumped by 67 times from RM688 to RM46,000 over the same period.
Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datu Len Talif Salleh revealed this during 8th Malaysia Heads of Mission Conference here yesterday.
“Through the well diversified economy, we have been able to raise our real GDP by 110 times – from RM527 million in 1963 to RM58 billion in 2013. Similarly, our GDP per capita has also increased almost 67 times from RM688 to RM46,000 per capita over the same period.
“With the robust economic growth achieved in the past, we have also succeeded in reducing the incidence of poverty from more than 31.9 per cent before 1985 to 2.4 per cent in 2012,” he said, while representing Minister of Industrial Development Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan at the event.
“We have been able to achieve a steady annual growth rate of between 4.5 to 5 per cent over the last few years despite the slowdown in the global economy.”
In line with the country embarking on the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) towards achieving a high-income economy, Len Talif said Sarawak is also transforming its economy through its long-term development plan of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).
On oil palm cultivation in peat lands, he said the state government has maintained its commitment towards implementing Sarawak’s Agriculture Policy that will meet the objectives of its development together with sustainable management of forest resources and biodiversity.
Len Talif pointed out that the state has set a target of 25 per cent of its land mass for various agricultural purposes.
Len Talif said the full achievement of this target would still allow Sarawak to maintain a high percentage of more than 60 per cent of forest cover, which is higher than the world average.
Earlier, he said Sarawak has a land area of 12.4 million hectares and the major forest types are coastal mangrove and peat swamp forests and mixed dipterocarp forest in the hilly interior.
He also noted that forestry is a major revenue earner to the state contributing more than RM700 million of income yearly after petroleum and petroleum products.
Besides that, Len Talif said Sarawak’s investment climate remains favourable due to several factors such as political stability, racial harmony, plentiful natural resources, pro-business government and so forth.
Meanwhile, State Planning Unit director Datu Ismawi Ismuni disclosed that Sarawak has attracted a total of RM6.6 billion of investment last year.
Out of this total, RM5.1 billion was contributed by foreigners while domestic players provided RM1.5 billion.
He said Sarawak’s balance of trade in 2013 was valued at RM68.7 billion, an increase of 5.4 per cent compared with RM65.2 billion in 2012.
In 2013, the state’s exports totalled RM107.9 billion while imports was at RM39.2 billion.
He noted that the construction sector has contributed to the robust economic performance last year driven by various projects especially from the public sector.
He believed the construction sector will perform well this year given the progress of the development in the SCORE region.
He also believed that the power and energy sector is the most feasible approach to industrialise the state’s economy going forward.