Sarawak DUN unanimously passes 2024 budget with expected RM386 mln surplus

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Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg said digitalisation will be the catalyst for Sarawak to position itself as a dynamic and resilient economy. – Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING (Nov 29): The Sarawak Legislative Assembly has unanimously approved the 2024 State Budget, which is expected to generate a surplus of RM386 million.

The RM12.4 billion budget was tabled by Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg last week.

In his winding up speech at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting today, Abang Johari said digitalisation will be the catalyst for Sarawak to position itself as a dynamic and resilient economy.

“We need to diversify our economy, promote industrialisation, attract foreign investments, promote public-private partnerships, develop high skilled workforce and transform into a multifaceted economy.

“In doing so, we must actively embrace digital technologies, particularly generative AI (artificial intelligence) to drive our economy, through data and innovation for a sustainable development.

“I am confident that through the adoption of digital technologies, we can double the size of the economy and achieve our aspirations by 2030,” he said.

He pointed out that according to the Oxford Economics Report, it is projected that the digital economy will contribute, on average 24.3 per cent to the world economy.

” In other words, the digital economy is expected to contribute approximately US$25 trillion to the world economy in 2022. In summary, if Sarawak can tap into 0.1 per cent of the global digital economy GDP (gross domestic product), this would contribute approximately US$25 billion or RM113 billion to Sarawak’s GDP,” he said.

He also said catalytic projects play a crucial role in initiating and driving downstream activities as they create a ripple effect for further development.

“Therefore, we anticipate that the catalytic projects will trigger an additional economic impact of RM40 billion GDP or more for downstream industries,” he added.

He cited  the example of the polycrystalline silicon industry whereby the demand for polycrystalline silicon products is expected to be majorly driven by the increasing number of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations.

“The global polycrystalline market is expected to hold a valuation of US$11.8 billion by 2028,” he said.

The DUN sitting was adjourned sine die by Speaker Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar at 5.31pm.

Prior to that, Deputy Minister of Port and Infrastructure Development Datuk Aidel Lariwoo in his motion of DUN adjournment said the sitting saw the passing of five Bills, namely Supply (2024) Bill 2023 or State Budget; Sarawak Ombudsman Bill 2023; Environment (Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Emission) Bill 2023; Distribution of Gas (Amendment) Bill 2023; and Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2023.

He said the sitting has approved a motion to authorise the withdrawal of funds from the State Consolidated Fund over a period of 20 years for the purpose of appropriation to Sarawak Sovereign Wealth Future Fund (SWF).

“The tabling and passing of these Government bills and motions by this Dewan Sitting reflects the Sarawak Government’s commitments in bringing Sarawak to propel the economy to greater heights and enhancing its prominence and visibility on a global scale,” he said.