Friday, February 28

Chong: State heading down bankruptcy path if GPS continues ‘reckless’ spending


Chong Chieng Jen (seated centre) talks to the media during a press conference at the State Legislative Assembly Buidling yesterday. Seen with him are Pelawan assemblyman David Wong (left), Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon (standing) and Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong.

GABUNGAN Parti Sarawak (GPS) risks bankrupting Sarawak within three years if it persists with its “indiscreet and reckless” spending as contained in the 2020 State Budget, claims Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

He said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had proposed in his budget speech sums for the year 2020 such as RM13.357 billion to accelerate the pace of development in the rural area; RM3.742 billion to provide treated water and electricity supply throughout the state; RM400 million to spearhead the development of digital economy infrastructures; RM1.8 billion to the Government Contribution towards Approved Agencies Trust Fund for the repayment of certain off-shore loans; and RM3.294 billion for operating expenditure which amounted to RM22.593 billion.

Apart from that, Chong said the budget had also proposed for billions of Ringgit to be allocated over the next few years, such as RM5.145 billion for the construction of roads and bridges in Sarawak, RM797 million for agriculture programmes and projects, and many others.

“Despite such a huge amount of allocation announced by Abang Johari, the GPS government only tabled in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) for a sum of RM9.694 billion for the year 2020.

“How will the remaining more than RM13 billion of proposed expenditure for the year 2020 be financed?” he asked in a press statement issued yesterday.

Chong, who is Kota Sentosa assemblyman, said Abang Johari had mentioned that the Sarawak government will resort to an Alternative Financing Model, which is to raise bonds and borrow from the capital market through Development Bank of Sarawak (DBoS).

“It is normal for the government to raise bonds and borrow to finance its expenditure, but it is very abnormal and extremely risky for the government to raise bonds and borrow such amount which is more than double its total development expenditure,” he added.

He said the total development expenditure provided in the state budget is RM6.597 billion with an operating expenditure of RM3.2 billion, amounting to a total approved expenditure of RM9.7 billion.

“On the other hand, from Abang Johari’s state budget speech, the state government shall be spending more than RM22.5 billion in year 2020, i.e. RM13 billion more than the amount approved by the Sarawak DUN.

“At this rate, in no time, the state government will incur more debt than its reserve fund and soon, if left unchecked, this will snowball to the amount that is beyond the state government’s ability to repay.”

Chong stressed that this was exactly what happened to the federal government when it was under the administration of Barisan Nasional, and that the GPS government “is following its footstep”.