By P PREM KUMAR & ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
The government’s revenue sharing formula for Sabah and Sarawak will be ready next year, but its implementation will depend on the country’s fiscal position.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng (picture) said the new government requires more time to come up with the right formula to ensure that the two eastern states receive a fair share of the federal income.
“We have to ensure that our financial position is stable before we can implement this formula.
“The federal government is facing a very challenging situation because we inherited financial scandals from the previous government. If there are no financial scandals, this would not be a big problem,” Lim said at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
He was responding to a question by Wong Chen (Pakatan Harapan-Subang) who asked if the government would devise a revenue sharing formula for Sabah and Sarawak.
In view of a pledge made by Pakatan Harapan in its manifesto, Lim said the Cabinet had agreed on Sept 5, 2018, to establish a Special Cabinet Committee to review the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
The committee will then make recommendations to the federal government in relation to the implementations of the rights and autonomy of Sabah and Sarawak.
He said the Special Cabinet Committee’s review on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 will be carried out through three stages — namely the Steering Committee, Technical Committee and Working Committee respectively, chaired by the prime minister and minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (law), and also comprising experts in the respective fields.
“The committee will give priority to the principle of fairness and equality to ensure that all parties are served with justice as provided by the law of the country in order to uphold the rule of law in our country.
“The issue of inequality in physical and socio-economic development between states in Peninsular Malaysia compared to the states of Sabah and Sarawak would be given more serious emphasis.
“This will also help the federal government in developing a more holistic economic development plan, capable of narrowing the economic gaps among Malaysian states,” Lim said.
However, he said if the government were to implement the formula, it must be within the country’s financial capacity.
“This is the commitment by the government,” he said.
Sarawak MPs later expressed their dissatisfaction over Lim’s response, saying that the matter must be dealt with urgency.
Santubong MP Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the “erosion” of power from the two states have led to billions of losses in state income.
“What we are seeking is for our rights to be returned to us. Do not take this request lightly,” Batang Sadong MP Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said.