No joy for Sarawak

By Joseph Tawie, FMT

KUCHING:  Sarawak has not been given much attention by the Barisan Nasional-led government in the Budget 2012 although the state’s rural areas are being touted as the coalition’s ‘fixed deposit’,  claimed Sarawak DAP.

Said state DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen: “There is nothing much in the budget, except for the mention of building some roads, supply of electricity and water to the rural areas.

“Even then we don’t know the amount as we have to share with Sabah. Given 20% of the RM232 billion of the total expenditure is for development, how much can Sarawak get for its development?

“In this type of budget, Sarawak roads will remain substandard forever. The amount of money given to Sarawak for its development does not commensurate with its contribution to the national coffers.”

Chong, who is the Bandar Kuching MP, was commenting on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s   Budget 2012 announcement on Friday.

“For the past 14 years, the nation has (accumulated) a total deficit amounting to more than RM436 billion.

“The next year’s budget has lot of goodies. Where will money for all these come from? And I think the only way for the government to finance all these is to obtain loans.

“We expect to incur RM45 billion deficit, and if you add this, our deficit will easily come to RM500 billion.

“This will be more than 50% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product),” he said.

Unhealthy budget

Reflecting on Greece’s experience, Chong said the country went bankrupt when its deficits reached 67% of its GDP.

“We are very near towards that direction… this budget is  a very unhealthy one.

“Eighty percent of the nation’s budget is for administrative operations and emolument, while only 20% is for the development fund,” he said.

Chong believes a balance budget should be one that allocates 60% for administrative operations and 40% for development.

He said development projects such as roads will help to stimulate the economy adding that the current imbalanced budget had been going on for the past few years due to the over-sized civil service.

“For this year, we see the emolument of 1.2 million civil servants, and the amount spent on this is more than the whole amount of development fund for the whole country.

“This is very inefficient use of money. That is really shocking,” he added.

Deafening silence on anti-corruption

Chong welcomed the government’s allocations of fund for Chinese and mission schools and RM500 for a poor family, RM100 for each school child  and RM200 each for university students, pointing out that the only good feeling is that something is better than nothing.

“But the government can’t really solve the financial burden of the poor.  It does not address the poverty issue unlike our Alternative Budget.