Tuesday, November 30

Why revise quantum of special grant, Dr Yii asks S’wak gov’t

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Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING (Nov 23): Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii is questioning the Sarawak government’s strategy to revise the quantum of the special grant under Article 112D of the Federal Constitution.

This follows the state government rejecting an initial increase of the special grant under Article 112D of the Federal Constitution which was done under the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

“This is after we stood up in Parliament to question the reason for the reduction of the special grant since 2021 when Perikatan Nasional (PN) took over and since then they have reduced it by half of what was increased by PH.

“The finance minister at that time revealed that the governments of Sabah and Sarawak have rejected retaining the higher payment instituted during PH’s time, in view of the ongoing revenue-sharing talks.

“Sabah and Sarawak Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili on Budget 2022 revealed that the states have requested for a postponement of the special committee to review the special grant under Article 112D,” he said in a statement today.

Dr Yii, however, said that he stood up in Parliament to question the rationale of such a decision and even if they retained the higher payment, that doesn’t mean that they still cannot revise and negotiate a more equitable figure.

He thus strongly asserted that the government should have maintained the payment, instead of reverting, until a decision on the new revenue sharing amount is decided by the reviewing committee.

“As a result, both Sabah and Sarawak have instead lost out on additional funding for the past two years because such talks and negotiations have somehow taken a back seat and not prioritised even though it involves the rights and needs of both our regions,” he said.

On top of that, he added, during the engagement and talks with the Finance Minister on the day before the budget vote, PH specifically demanded that more be given to Sabah and Sarawak in view of the vast needs in both regions.

Following that, during the speech, the Finance Minister announced an additional RM500 million to Sarawak and an additional RM500 million to Sabah.

Without such demand and engagement, he opined that such increase would not have happened.

“Although, even with this increase, it is still inadequate and more still have to be done to correct the imbalance development in both our regions… but more important, I demanded that all expenditures must be used transparently and accountably.

“This is to make sure it reaches directly to the development needs of the people rather than we seeing wastages, or even worse being abused and used to enrich only a certain group of elites,” he said.