KUCHING: Sarawak is confident of achieving an economic growth of six per cent this year and beyond.
The growth rate rose from 2.3 per cent in 2016 to 4.7 per cent in 2017 while the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita increased from RM44,000 in 2016 to RM46,000 in 2017. Export value also increased from RM77 billion in 2016 to RM96 billion in 2017.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg assured that the increase in public spending over the next two years to build the state’s physical infrastructure will help achieve the targeted economic growth.
“Sarawak’s economy need to grow by at least six per cent annually in order to attain the status of a developed economy by 2030,” he said at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the state government, and Beijing BECA Sci-Tech Co Ltd and Sinopec Engineering Incorporation on the proposed development of an integrated oil and gas complex in Lawas, here yesterday.
For that, the state government would continue its business-friendly policies and create a more conducive environment to attract more high value and high-tech investment.
“Sarawak has sizeable oil and gas reserves which have mainly been exported in the raw form. There have not been much value-adding activities to derive more benefits for the state.
“Therefore, Sarawak now wants to take active part in the development of its oil and gas recourses and we have taken strategic steps to undertake such development,” he said, adding that among them was the formation of Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) and amendment to the Oil Mining Ordinance (1958).
He said the state welcomes active private sector participation in the development of the state’s oil and gas sector.
“Today’s MOU is an auspicious step towards expanding our capacity and capability in the oil and gas sector instead of being mere a spectator and waiting for ‘handouts’,” he said.
With that, he thanked BECA and Sinopec for choosing Sarawak as an investment location for the proposed project.
“These clearly reflect Sarawak’s standing as a preferred investment destination among the many possible locations within Malaysia and the region.
“Investors do not simply come with their money. Before they come, they must study the strength and potential of our economy and other non-economic factors like political and social stability,” he stressed.
With a clear economic policy and a big reserve, Abang Johari said Sarawak has a strong financial standing and believe these are the factors that prompted the two companies to consider investing in Sarawak.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan recalled that oil was first discovered in Miri 109 years ago, and today the state holds 29 per cent of the national oil reserves and 54 per cent of the natural gas reserves, and most of the oil and gas have been exported in the raw form, mainly as crude oil and LNG.
“While the state has derived good income from this, Sarawak’s involvement in the oil and gas industry has been minimal in the past. Therefore, it is in our best interest to have more value-adding downstream activities in this sector,” he said adding that Sarawak has been ranked among the top three as a preferred investment destination over the last six years.
Awang Tengah, who is also Industrial and Entrepreneur Development Minister and Resource Planning and Environment Second Minister, said all these are possible because of the chief minister’s courage and vision in championing the rights of Sarawak, especially over oil and gas resources.
“Sarawakians cannot just be bystanders. We want to be actively involved in the exploration and production of our oil and gas resources including the downstream activities,” he said.