Abang Johari gestures while delivering his address. – Photo by Chimon Upon

SERIAN (July 15): The Sarawak government aspires to hike up the gross domestic product (GDP) of Serian to RM1.4 billion by 2030 and turn the division into a ‘small New Zealand of Sarawak’, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said the division’s GDP currently stands at RM600 million and could hit the target by 2030 in line with Sarawak’s annual growth, which is estimated to be between six and eight per cent.

“By the year 2030, our target is RM1.4 billion GDP for Serian. (The) GDP for Serian is now RM600 million. Of course, the population will increase and the growth for Serian is aligned with our state’s growth between six and eight per cent.

“I am confident we can achieve this by 2030 and Serian will become a small New Zealand. This is my hope,” he said prior to launching the Serian Convention Centre (SCC) and Serian Master Plan in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of Sarawak’s independence here today.

Abang Johari said his administration is determined to bring further development to Serian – a division not lacking in nature such as mountains, hills, rivers and lakes.

He said with such nature, Serian could be preserved as a tourist attraction where visitors can admire the mountains and hills, which could also serve as carbon storage.

“Imagine New Zealand – those who have been are aware that with a population of just five million but a lot of sheep, New Zealand is a developed country and develops its rural areas with good access roads and (has) mountainous terrain as attractions including Lake Taupo.

“We can develop Serian with better infrastructure to bring in tourists. We can develop areas where foreigners can invest in those particular areas in terms of tourism. This will be the small New Zealand of Sarawak. This is our plan.

“We have unique capital injection to develop our infrastructure. For a start, the Greater Kuching Coordinated Development Agency can work on its plan, as I have given them RM1.5 billion for development in the three years,” he said, adding that once the RM1.5 billion has been used up, his administration will inject more funds into the agency to see continued development.

Abang Johari said the World Bank had recently acknowledged Sarawak as a high-income state, as its gross national income (GNI) per capita had achieved the classified level.

“If they did not study well, they would not declare us as a high-income state. Malaysia is not yet a high-income nation, just upper middle-income. They mentioned GNI per capita but our household per capita has not yet reached the standard.

“What we do is that we got the income and redistribute it back to the people. We have three pillars under our PCDS (Post Covid-19 Development Strategy) – Economic Prosperity, Social Inclusivity and Environmental Sustainability. We give back to our people by emphasising talent development,” he said.

He said through talent development such as promoting the use of technology and artificial intelligence, Sarawakians can increase their income

“To increase the household income, you must have the talent that will give you the extra income. For infrastructure development, the government will give the money,” he said.

Abang Johari pledged that the state government will continue to explore more avenues of revenue to upgrade Sarawak’s infrastructure.

“The state’s revenue has almost doubled to RM11.9 billion in 2022 from RM6 billion in previous years. This year, we can get more than what we had in 2022 based on the figures I have but I cannot reveal to you yet,” he said.