Coming soon – Sarawak’s own sovereign fund

CHIEF Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is in favour of setting up a sovereign fund by the state government to ensure the long-term management of the financial resources of the state for the future.

He said the fund will be modelled after the Norwegian Sovereign wealth fund as the state’s economy is similar to the Nordic country’s which is based on oil and gas (O&G).

Earlier, the Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) had floated the idea to the CM.

“I support your (SUPP) call for sovereign fund. Actually, I have requested our side to learn at Norway.

“Singapore’s (sovereign fund) is different because Singapore’s economy is rather different from our economy, but Norway yes, because it is based on resources, and we are learning from Norway.

“Hopefully, by middle of 2024-2035, we may have additional (money) so we invest into our sovereign fund, and that will make Sarawak financially strong,” he said, Dayak Daily reported.

“But, let this (coming state) election makes us stronger,” he told delegates in his speech prior to closing the Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Special Convention 2020 at SUPP headquarters here today.

The management of sovereign wealth fund is a political hot potato in Malaysia, given 1MDB Bhd’s poor track record. Funds from the Finance Ministry-owned company was allegedly siphoned off by the billions during the previous Barisan Nasional administration, leading to probes by about a dozen countries on money-laundering, graft and abuse of power charges.

Earlier, SUPP’s president Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian in his speech said one of the resolutions of the party was to call on the state government to set up a Sarawakian sovereign fund using the fund received from the 2019 State Sales Tax (SST) to ensure that the future generations will continue to benefit from the O&G revenues even after the depletion of the state’s O&G resources.

Dr Sim also urged the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government to use part of the funds from the SST payment from Petronas to set up a special trust fund for human resources development to help the young generations in skills training, technology research and business development.

He also called on the state government to provide an one-off payment of RM500 to all Sarawakians using the revenue collected from the 2019’s SST on exported petroleum products.

Dr Sim added other resolutions of the party include urging the Sarawak government to provide free Covid-19 vaccine to all Sarawakians when it is available, building at least 5,000 units of affordable houses every year for the B40 and M40 groups and provide financial assistance to first time house buyers.

Dr Sim who is Minister for Local Government and Housing also urged the state government to approve the conversion of leasehold residential and commercial land to freehold throughout Sarawak without payment of any additional premium.

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