KOTA KINABALU (May 24): The Sabah government’s cash reserve now stands at RM6.78 billion, the Sabah State Assembly was told on Wednesday.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said the cash reserve is the state government’s savings, which will not be used except in certain cases, and it is important to ensure the state’s strong financial position.
“We don’t use it to pay salaries and so on. Last year, the expenditure on managing the state and development was more than RM5 billion, while revenue collection was almost RM7 billion.
“Meaning that (the difference in the amount) goes into our reserve,” he said when winding up the debate on the motion of thanks to Sabah Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin for his government policy speech.
Hajiji said that the drastic increase in the state’s revenue in recent times was a proud achievement, but in the current strong financial situation, he reminded all parties that this is not the time to feel comfortable and complacent.
“One of the main challenges we have to face is how to maintain the state’s revenue sources, so that the state’s development agenda can continue in line with the aspirations of the Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) Development Plan,” he said.
He said that the collection of state sales tax on petroleum products has contributed a total of RM4.21 billion to state revenue, so the state government has no plans in the near future to stop the implementation of the tax.
“The revenue from the oil and gas industry is capable of multiplying the state’s income, to increase, strengthen and sustain, which will undoubtedly be enjoyed by all Sabahans,” he said.
Hajiji said it is important for the state government to be involved in the business of the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry because it is a source of life for the oil and gas industry, from which the state government has obtained many benefits.
Among the benefits gained were an increase in financial and economic factors, employment opportunities for local Sabahans and encouraging more local contracts, in addition to increasing the level of knowledge and quality of human capital in the industry among Sabahans, he said.
The motion of thanks was then approved by a majority vote.
The State Assembly sitting continues on Thursday when several bills, including the anti-hopping bill, will be tabled.