KUCHING (June 26): Sarawak can expect another ‘bountiful harvest’ in the earning of the State Sales Tax (SST) on petroleum products this year, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He said during the 2022 State-level Gawai Dayak dinner last night that his optimism is based on the current rising global price of oil and gas.
“Just in a matter of three years, we have collected RM8.5 billion (in SST) for Sarawak and we pray this year could be more because of the increased prices of oil and gas.
“Based on the difference of about 40 to 50 dollars per barrel (compared to last year) you can calculate now what we are going to get at the end of this year. I think we can have another Gawai end of the year, meaning once you have the financial strength, we can achieve what we have planned under the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy,” he said.
According to him again, the government will get the necessary funds needed to improve road access, water and power supply and internet connectivity in the rural areas.
Abang Johari also said Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) aims to win big in terms of parliamentary seats in Sarawak in order to have a bigger voice in the Parliament in negotiating more rights to be returned to the state as enshrined in Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
He thanked the Dayak community for their support to GPS in the last state election which saw the coalition winning 76 out of the 82 seats at stake.
“That is our political strength and that is our asset for us to manage our state of Sarawak.
“We have managed to a certain extent to get our power back from the federal government. We have incorporated MA63 and the IGC (Inter-Governmental Committee report) in our Federal Constitution.
“The next thing is we must have a very strong voice in the federal parliament in the coming election. With that I’m sure we can further negotiate whatever that is left in our process of negotiations under MA63,” he said.
Pointing out that efforts to make Sarawak a developed and high income state in 2030 is ongoing, he said the state is now attracting foreign investors to come to the state.
“Lately we got a lot of people coming into Sarawak to establish their investment here. I think our future is bright based on this feedback that we got.
“Hopefully we always get good harvest in the years to come,” he said.
On another matter, he said the Dayaks have land as their assets but they cannot leave their lands idling.
“We have to make use of our land for good productivity. And in this connection, commercial agriculture is the answer. And commercial agriculture must employ modern technology, including digital process, in our effort to produce more food and other commodities.
“The world is facing food problem. For Sarawak, judging from our land size, that should not be our problem provided we know how to make use of our land through structural planning and also to use modern technology,” he said.
Also present at the dinner were Deputy Premiers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, State Legislative Assembly speaker Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar and state and federal ministers and deputy ministers.
Meanwhile, the 2022 State-level Gawai Dayak organising chairman Dato Gerawat Gala said this year’s dinner held at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) was the biggest in terms of attendance and participation so far.
“We have 2,000 plus guests tonight (June 25) excluding our performers. Some of our performers came all the way from Baram and Asap to present their very best for all of you,” he said.
He explained the Orang Ulu community are the hosts of this year’s State Gawai Celebration which is hosted on a rotational basis among the Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu.