Guan Eng: Putrajaya’s finances still too weak to fully repay Sabah, Sarawak

Julia Chan
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said that it was unfair to accuse PH of delay tactics when it must deal with issues such as 1MDB’s debt and the National Higher Education Corporation’s repayment arrears.. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 17 — The federal government’s financial situation has not recovered enough for it to pay Sabah and Sarawak everything the two states are due, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said. 

Lim explained that while the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration wished for both states to receive all that they are entitled to get, the damage the Barisan Nasional (BN) caused to public coffers made this difficult at the moment.

“For instance we want to see Sabah and Sarawak get what they rightfully actually deserve but if we do it now when we don’t have the capacity, how can you talk about sharing prosperity when there’s no prosperity to share,” he told reporters after a dialogue on Budget 2020 here.

Lim was asked to respond to the Opposition’s criticism of Putrajaya’s delay in granting the two states higher oil royalty as pledged in the PH election manifesto as well as a 40 per cent share of public revenue collected within their territory that they are entitled to constitutionally.

He insisted that it was unfair to accuse PH of delay tactics when it must deal with issues such as 1MDB’s debt and the National Higher Education Corporation’s repayment arrears.

The minister insisted that BN’s mismanagement of public finances was the reason why PH could not execute its pledges immediately.

Lim went on to argue that PH’s commitment to delivering its pledges at the federal and state levels was unlike any other election victors.

“Never before has a federal government clearly stated in their manifesto and we have done so but yet we are criticised for having done so. 

“We just hope that time is given for us to restore fiscal balances,” he said. 

Lim said that a clearer picture of what the federal government could afford will be presented during his tabling of Budget 2020 next month.

Earlier, Lim announced a RM78 million allocation to help repair some up to 35 dilapidated schools in Sabah.

“We hope this RM78 million can help repair or provide better facilities for schools especially those in the rural areas which have been ignored over the past 15 years,” Lim said.

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