Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi

KUCHING: Sarawak can increase the household income of its people by coming up with a comprehensive Sarawak Development Plan within ten years.

Universiti Malaya (UM) political analyst Associate Professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi thinks the plan must be one with a clear vision and objectives.

“The fact is that the current household income does not match the wealth in the form of natural resources owned by the state,” he told New Sarawak Tribune on Sunday (Nov 22).

Dr Awang was responding to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s remarks that the perception held by several quarters that Sarawak is a rich state but its people are poor was not accurate.

He said Sarawak needs to exploit its oil and gas resources by taking into account the opportunities given to the locals.

“The distribution of Sarawak’s wealth must be given to local companies that are qualified,” he said.

He said Sarawak is one of largest contributors to the gross domestic product (GDP) at 10 percent and in 2019, Sarawak’s GDP was estimated at RM136.05 billion with a per capita income of RM53,317.

“However, the statistics thought may be high but the reality is that the average household income in Sarawak in still low at RM5,218,” he said.

“Nor is it a reality in terms of the number of e-Kasih welfare recipients which shows that Sarawak’s poverty rate is still high and Sarawak is still the third poorest state after Kelantan and Sabah,” said Dr Awang.

Abang Johari during an interview on post-2021 Budget on TVS last Thursday said, “Sarawak is rich when you look at it per capita, but you must realise that GDP derived from goods and services also include proceeds from oil and gas.”

“All of this goes to Putrajaya through Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), so this does not fully represent the state’s economy,” he said.