Post Covid-19 exit economic strategy 2030 vital

Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin (seated centre) representing Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at the closing ceremony of the Greater Miri Development Master Plan Lab 2020 at Pullman Miri Waterfront Hotel, along with other representatives.

MIRI: For Sarawak to achieve its aspiration of becoming a developed and high-income state, change is inevitable, especially in the new post Covid-19 era, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He emphasised that for the state to achieve its goal, Sarawak’s economy would need to grow at an average of eight percent per annum up to 2030.

“However, based on the state’s historical Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data, on average, Sarawak’s economy is growing at the rate of four to 4.5 percent,” he said.

“If we continue the normal way of doing things, we will not achieve our aspiration,” he stressed.

His text of speech was read by Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin at the closing ceremony of the two-day Greater Miri Development Master Plan Lab 2020 at Pullman Miri Waterfront Hotel here today.

He said Sarawak’s economy was expected to contract to between 3.5 and five percent this year, with negative growth expected across all economic sectors.

“We must adjust ourselves and adapt to the new normal. We will not be able to operate on ‘business as usual’ mode anymore,” he said.

Abang Johari said the 2021 State Budget was announced with the aim of stimulating the state’s economic growth which was severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, while ensuring balanced socioeconomic development between urban and rural areas.

“With estimated revenue of RM10.012 billion and proposed expenditure of RM9.832 billion, we expect to generate a surplus of RM180 million,” he said.

Pointing out that the 2021 State Budget was a development-and rural-biased budget, he emphasised that no division or district would be left undeveloped.

He said he had formed the Sarawak Economic Action Council (SEAC) to look into the post Covid-19 exit economic strategy 2030.

He said the state’s development strategies had been formulated, comprising seven core economic sectors and six key enablers to drive Sarawak towards becoming a high-income economy by 2030.

He said the seven economic sectors were Commercial Agriculture and Commodities, Manufacturing with Industrial Revolution (IR) 4.0, Forestry, Tourism, Mining Exploration, Renewable Energy, and the Services Sector.

“Meanwhile, the six key enablers are Education and Skills Enhancement, Digital Transformation, Infrastructure Development, Transport System Networks, Utilities Provision, and Innovation and Research & Development,” said Abang Johari.

He said the proposed development would anchor on two principles – digital economy and environmental sustainability – to ensure that Sarawak’s economy will be more competitive globally while adhering to various international protocols on environment.

“In terms of education and human capital development, we want to ensure that Sarawak has an agile workforce to drive the state’s vision and excel globally,” he said.

He said the state’s workforce must have the right skills to match the needs of the industry.

“This requires integrated planning based on collaboration between institutions of higher learning, the industry and other stakeholders. Miri is fortunate with the establishment of Curtin University and other public and private institutes,” he said.

With regard to the services sector, he said one of the state’s economic recovery strategies was to enhance the efficiency of its services sector such as transport and logistics, tourism-related services, banking and insurance, housing, healthcare, and education.

Abang Johari said this effort was important to support the expansion of Sarawak’s major economic sectors such as tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and construction.