Anwar announces RM1 billion to upgrade Sarawak, Sabah border infrastructure

20 Jan 2023 01:32pm

KUCHING - The Finance Ministry has given preliminary approval for an additional allocation of RM1 billion for the commencement of work to upgrade the infrastructure and increase the capability of the Customs, Immigration, Quarantine and Security (CIQS) Complex at Sarawak and Sabah borders.

Prime Minister cum Finance Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the approval was given following his recent discussion with Indonesian President Joko Widodo regarding the relocation of Indonesia’s capital to Nusantara, Kalimantan, which shares a border with the two Malaysian regions.

"We have decided to give the additional allocation for the CIQS to improve security and increase its capability, as well as for other basic infrastructure such as roads, as we don’t want to be seen as too obsolete.”

He said this at a press conference after chairing the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) Implementation Action Council meeting here today.

The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor and several other federal and state Cabinet ministers.

Anwar also said the federal government agreed to increase the special grant to Sarawak as provided for in Article 112D of the Federal Constitution to Sarawak to RM300 million.

He said the amount was only for the initial stage before a specific formula was announced by the federal and Sarawak governments.

The Prime Minister said the provision of the grant was decided by previous leaders who saw Sabah and Sarawak as lagging behind the peninsula during the formation of Malaysia.

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"Prior to this, Sarawak was only given RM16 million...of course, as Finance Minister, I think that is an unreasonable amount.

"(But) we cannot afford to give too much as it is also stated in Article 112D that the grant is subject to the financial position of the Federal government," he said.

Meanwhile, Anwar also announced the appointment of Sarawak Financial Secretary Datuk Seri Dr Wan Lizozman Wan Omar as a board member of the Inland Revenue Board (IRB), effective today.

"The application (by the Sarawak government) was made quite some time ago, and I think there is no problem with that.

"What's important is that the person is a professional with vast experience. Wan Lizozman is indeed qualified and capable of helping the IRB," he said.

The Prime Minister also announced the bonus for all state civil servants to be tax-free.

"Right now, the bonus given by state governments is subject to tax, but on Abang Johari's request which I think is reasonable, the bonus will be tax-free and this applies to civil servants in all states," he added. - BERNAMA