Budget 2017: Request for priority might not be forthcoming for Sarawak

This week is the budget week for Malaysia. The tabling of the 2017 national budget at the country’s national parliament has been scheduled for Friday October 21, 2016.

The whole country is eagerly waiting for the country’s Finance Minister who is also the country’s Prime Minister to table the new national budget for 2017. Everyone in the country, from the least to the powerful, is expecting something from the budget, but Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, is not too enthusiastic about it.

He has been reported to be less hopeful and less optimistic about what is in store for Sarawak in the 2017 national budget when he was asked about it at a function on Sunday October 16, 2016.

It seems that the 2017 national budget does not generate much interest for him, even though he expects Sarawak to have as much as possible.

A budget is supposed to be a secret document. Anyone involved in its preparation is not to divulge any information to the public or to anyone else for that matter. A budget leak constitutes a serious blunder committed by any government and it can cause a government to fall.

But a country’s annual budget is not prepared in a vacuum. As the Chief Minister of a very important state for the BN, Tan Sri Adenan must have been consulted, but it looks like that he is not satisfied with what he knows about the budget.

Can we say that he is not too excited about what Sarawak is given in the 2017 budget? In fact he is not quite confident that Sarawak can get the same amount as was previously allocated to her. Is this also the case for the rest of the country?

Why does CM Adenan believe that he cannot get what he has asked for? Has he requested for much more than usual?

There is a need for a jump-start for development in the state if Sarawak is going to catch up with the rest of the country.

For equality, fairness and justice, Sarawak needs to be given the opportunity to bridge the development gap between her and the other regions in the country. Within the state itself, there is also the need to close the development gap between the rural and the urban areas.

To achieve these ends, Sarawak requires much more than her usual percentage of allocation in the national budget. This might not be forthcoming in the 2017 national budget, and this could be the reason as to why CM Adenan is not too hopeful about it.

Perhaps realising that he won’t get what he has demanded, CM Adenan is willing to use the state’s reserve for development purposes in Sarawak. Development activities have to be carried out in Sarawak irrespective of the health of the national economy.

The national budget is about the distribution of the country’s resources and how they are to be utlised. It is a political document as much as it is an economic document. It is about the government’s priorities and values.

Sarawak is lagging behind in all aspects of progress and development. CM Adenan wants it to be given special attention and there is no better way to do this than through the use of a national budget.

The price for crude oil has risen slightly in the last few days to about US$50 per barrel. With this slight increase, and as an oil producing state, Sarawak should aim for a better allocation for the development expenditure.

But Sarawakians should not be too excited about this 2017 national budget – after all – who, in Sarawak, knows about this better than its CEO. If  he is not too hopeful about the whole thing, then why should the rest of Sarawakians be optimistic about it.

But the Prime Minister has 5 days to think about what CM Adenan was trying to imply, and it is possible that he is going to make him happy for Sarawak is extremely crucial for the BN’s success in the next parliamentary election which is less than 20 months away. – Sarawakvoice