Scandal of Sarawak’s Budget Black Hole

By Sarawak Report

Taib Mahmud, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, has failed to account for a staggering RM 4.8 billion of government expenditure over the past 3 years alone, according to explosive figures released by the opposition DAP party.  This represents more than half the Development Budget, which in turn represents nearly three quarters of the total expenditure for the State!

Put another way, in 2009 RM 1.825 billion of the State’s total expenditure was allocated to persons unknown, compared to the government’s estimated revenue for that year of RM 3.726 billion.  That is about half of all your cash!  


The secret projects soaking up Sarawak’s cash  

The DAP, who recently triumphed over BN at the Sibu by-election, have produced a closely argued Alternative Budget for 2010, in which they demand a return to proper accounting methods, so that taxpayers can know exactly how their money has been spent.  This is their right and it is also Malaysian law, in line with the rest of the civilised world.  

The DAP figures show that Taib has not only reserved 80% of the State’s entire Development Budget to the three Ministries controlled directly by himself, but that shockingly most of that money has been spent on secret projects about which he has provided zero information.   

Under the circumstances the people of Sarawak are entitled to assume that the money has been stolen. As the DAP points out:  

      “This [state of affairs] defies the basic principle of political accountability in  a democratic system and is susceptible to great abuses”.  

So let us all guess what those abuses might be and where the money might have gone. Some on more Rolls Royces for the Chief Minister?  Some on more foreign properties for his family?  Some on bailing out projects by Taib-owned companies?  

The Chief Minister appears to think he can get away with not telling people where he has decided to spend this money, but we can be comfortably certain that none of these secret projects involve benefitting any of the impoverished people whose lands he has taken for palm plantations now owned by his family and friends.  

The “Government Contribution Towards Approved Agencies Trust Fund”   

So what is going on and how has all this money disappeared?  

The DAP budget documents provides a detailed analysis.  Firstly, it outlines the extraordinary level of personal control that Taib has assumed over Sarawak’s expenditure.  The septuagenarian personally manages the three main spending departments in the State.  This means that almost every spending decision has to go through him and that no other Minister can do anything without getting his permission.  

In particular his three ministries (the Finance Ministry, Planning and Resources Ministry and Chief Ministry) together control 80% of the Development Budget, which alone accounts for around three quarters of all money spent, although it is argued many of the projects would more sensibly belong under different departments.