State should spend more to stimulate economy, says Chong

Chong Chieng Jen – FMT pix

By Chew Lip Song

THE Sarawak government should spend more in 2021 to stimulate the economy, which has taken a hit from the Covid-19 pandemic, state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen said.

The government should not plan for a surplus budget, which would be counter-productive, the Kota Sentosa assemblyman added.

“To spend to stimulate state’s economy is one of the fundamental roles of a Government.

“It doesn’t make sense for the Gabungan Parti Sarawak Government to operate a deficit budget when there is economic growth (year 2018 and 2019) but to operate a surplus budget when the economy is in recession (2020 and 2021). This goes against the fundamental economic principles,” Chong said in a media statement.

He added that a government running on deficit budget during economic growth can lead to inflation while a surplus budget during a recession would exacerbate the downturn.

“There is nothing confusing about my call to spend more in light of the economic recession unless Abang Jo doesn’t understanding this basic fundamental economic principle,” Chong who is also Stampin MP added.

Chief  Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg had earlier accused Chong of “blowing hot and cold” over the budget.

The CM said while Chong had earlier criticised the government for being extravagant, the latter had asked for an extra RM1 billion be allocated for the state’s 2021 Budget.

Chong had also revealed that during Abang Johari’s two year as CM, the state’s reserves had dipped by RM6.07 billion based on the Auditor-General’s 2019 Report.

He added that in 2018 and 2019 ,the Sarawak government spent more than the revenue collected although there was no Covid-19. With a recession imminent, the government should spend more to counteract the effect, Chong said.