Abang Johari (third left) receives a mat from Nansian as a token of appreciation while Abdul Karim (centre) and other distinguished guests look on. – Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING (July 8): Sarawak is very fortunate that people from outside of the state are monitoring its economic development and how it managed to restructure its economy for the past six years, which led to an increase in its income, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg

He regarded the state income last year, which has exceeded RM10 billion, or nearly RM12 billion, as a historical record for Sarawak.

“And I didn’t know that people who are experts in monitoring our economic performance give us the rating not only in terms of our financial position 3A, but I didn’t know the World Bank is also looking at us. And two days ago, they (World Bank) revealed that Sarawak is now a high income state.

“Actually our target was 2030 but then as you know the World Bank is a credible bank and based on international standards that we are now a high income state… quite an achievement.

“But this is based on GNI (gross national income) and with that figure they have calculated of course our per capita GNI above that standard and therefore we are really a high income state actually we can say that our state income is the top among all the states in Malaysia,” he said when officiating at the 15th Association of Research and Development Movement of Singai Sarawak (Redeems) Gawai Gala Dinner 2023 at Redeems Centre, Singai tonight.

Abang Johari however clarified that there is a difference in gross national income (GNI) per capita and the household income per capita.

“GNI actually is an economic statistical indicator that our performance is on the right track.

“Therefore with this extra income, we have to redistribute the wealth to the people in general. Otherwise there will be disparity, the country has a substantial income but the household income is still small.

“In this particular scenario, what you do is this – when you have the income you redistribute to your target group. Meaning for Sarawak, we have our PCDS (Post Covid-19 Development Strategy) and that is why we have planned our Post Covid-19 Development Strategy based on the three pillars,” he said.

“One, economic prosperity, which indicator is positive because we are a high income state. Two, social inclusivity meaning we spread it out among the community, and three, environmental sustainability, there must be a balance.

“To sustain our economy as well as to sustain our environment, in order to do that, there are financial instruments to redistribute this income to the people at large.

“In order to get an increase in household income, we use our money to develop our basic infrastructure, that is why we go and develop our digital infrastructure, connectivity, road infrastructure including coastal roads and we have the federal government helping us.

“We also have to improve our water supply as well as power supply, this is the basic infrastructure,” he added.

Abang Johari said there is also a need to train Sarawak’s human resource or talent development to add value to its resources and the infrastructure that have been developed.

“The world wants green products through green processes, and we are very fortunate our energy is green energy from renewable resources and therefore the world will accept your product.

“Otherwise, based on ESG or environmental social governance, the bank may not support you if your process is not based on green. That is the economic scenario that we are in, and the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) government – we have already a direction because we got GPS (global positioning system),” he quipped.

Adding on, Abang Johari said up to 2030, Sarawak has the resources for green energy, social inclusivity, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity.

These include carbon trading, microalgae, and methanol which Sarawak will start producing on its own next year without depending on the national oil and gas company Petronas.

“With that surely the income of the state will increase again but what GPS is concerned now is redistribution given back to people and we have the financial instrument for us to create and distribute the wealth of Sarawak to our people.

“We have attained our high income status based on GNI, what we do now is to redistribute so that our household income will also increase over time hopefully by 2030.

“With that we are on a very strong footing and let us together as Sarawakians develop this country, and develop Sarawak so that the world recognises Sarawak just as the World Bank recognises us,” he said.

Also present were Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and Redeems president Datuk Peter Nansian.