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February 14, 2018 19:49 PM

Abang Johari: Chinese Majority Has A Big Role To Play In Strengthening State Economy

KUCHING, Feb 14 (Bernama) -- As the major players in Sarawak's commerce and industry, the Chinese community in the state has a big role to play in the current government's effort to strengthen the state economy, says Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said the Chinese business community had always been a major contributor to commerce, trade and industry in Sarawak, and he believed that they would continue to support the government's effort to strengthen the state economic position with their resources, domestic and international influence and networking.

"We are willing to listen to the needs of our business communities and take steps to increase the ease of doing business in Sarawak like doing away with red tapes and unnecessary procedures," he said in his Chinese New Year (CNY) message made available here today.

He said Sarawak is a land of diversity, not only in its rich nature, but also in the culture, ways of life and beliefs of people,

"We are always free to practice our culture, tradition, and religion. We celebrate and find strength in our diversity, find common ground in our differences. That is Sarawak that we know today...united and cohesive, that has been an example for the rest of the country to emulate," he said.

Abang Johari pointed out that when he took over the position as the Chief Minister early last year, he decided to take a different approach in building the state economy.

"I might not get popular with it but I decided to implement policies to strengthen the state economy as I believe we need to transform economically and strong in our economic front. Economic policies are sometimes not easy to understand and moreover may not yield immediate results for people to appreciate," he said.

He said Sarawak needs to be economically strong and be able to generate more revenue to finance its development towards the year 2030, as yearly allocations from the Federal Government was insufficient to fund programmes like development of infrastructure and utilities.

For this reason, he said Sarawak had put in place various economic initiatives to invigorate the state economy with a view to turn the state into a digital economy within the next two decades, and although state gross domestic product (GDP) contribution to the national economy was the third largest because of its oil and gas, its median monthly household income of about RM4,000 was still comparatively quite low.

"Our current average GDP growth at 4 percent annually is not enough to propel us to become a developed and high income economy by then. Experts said we need to average at 6 per cent per annum if we are to reach the target," he said.

Abang Johari said this was the priority of the government now, while at the same time not forgetting the need to provide the rural people with better roads, schools and other amenities to upgrade the quality of life in rural areas.

"I am confident that with a strong public spending and our Digital Economy Initiatives within the next five to ten years, we will be able to open up our economy and generate more consumption that should boost the growth of our local economy in order to be able to achieve a growth of 6 per cent annually towards the year 2030.

"At the same time, I call on the non-Chinese community to join in the CNY celebration by going to their Chinese friends' open houses to strengthen unity in our multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural society.

"Let Sarawak be the exemplary model of the authentic spirit of racial and religious harmony," he added.



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