GPS government urged to explain why Sarawak’s special grant was cut by half

Irene Mary Chang Oi Ling (N.51 Bukit Assek)

By Emma Victoria

THE SARAWAK government has been urged to clarify if they are aware of the reduction of special grant made under the Federal Constitution in the 2021 national budget.

Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang said the grant was reduced from RM32 million to RM16 million, and it is crucial for the GPS government to explain to Sarawakians the loss of RM16 million.

“In the 2020 national budget, the PH government managed to allocate RM32 million for Sarawak as the special grant despite the inheritance of huge debts from the previous BN government,” she said in a statement.

She said it was one of the most herculean efforts made by the PH government for the benefit of Sarawakians.

The PH government remembered the pledge to help Sabah and Sarawak, and had only gone into the second year of governance, when it increased the special grants to the two states.

“This special grant had never been reviewed since 1969 and yet the PH government had on their own accord, increased it to RM32 million from 2020 until 2023 and was to be doubled again to RM64 million in 2024,” she said.

Chang said the Sarawak government must clarify if the reduction was part of the negotiations on the commercial arrangement between Petronas, the Federal Government and the GPS government.

“Was it also a part of the terms of negotiations for Petronas agreeing to pay RM2.95 billion in the state sales tax?” she questioned.

“The people of Sarawak have the right to know as this concerns their interest and welfare. They were the ones who stood to benefit or suffer from any deals which the GPS state government has made with the Federal Government and Petronas.”

She said the GPS government should therefore come clean to explain the shortfall of the special grant to Sarawak and assure the people that their rights and interests have not been short changed in any way.

All pertinent details of negotiations and agreed terms should be revealed including the agreement for the reduction of the special grant, she said.