Towards a thriving society by 2030

Abang Johari (third left) signs a copy of the PCDS book for Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas (third right). Looking on from left are: Federal Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar; Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan; State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion; Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Jemut Masing and Federal Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi. Photo: Japen

In his speech when launching the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030 on Thursday, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari shared the state government’s plans and strategies towards becoming a developed and high-income state by 2030 after the state has overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Today we present you part one of his speech. Part two will appear tomorrow.

Alhamdulillah, all praise be to Allah Subhanahu Wataala who has given us the opportunity to witness the launch of the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030 to leapfrog and sustain socio-economic growth and development for the next 10 years.

In this difficult times, the people of Sarawak from various walks of life have gone through many difficulties in their daily lives. Businesses were disrupted, many lost their jobs, students could not study in school, graduates did not have jobs, family members could not visit each other during festive seasons and many more. All of us have had to adapt to new norms and adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs) to curb the spread of this deadly virus that have infected and sacrificed many lives of Malaysians.

Our frontliners have also made sacrifices in providing services to serve and treat those affected by Covid-19. In addition, they also strive to ensure hospital facilities are always adequate to cope with the increasing number of patients in need of treatment, including non-Covid-19 patients.

Under my leadership, the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government has always given priority to efforts in ensuring the safety of the lives of the people. Therefore, the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) works around the clock for the safety of all of us and to ensure that the virus can be controlled and defeated. To face such a dire situation and as a measure to reduce the impact of Covid-19, the government has provided various assistance packages through the Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance (BKSS) worth RM4.5 billion.

While bracing for the current pandemic, we should not forget what we can do for the future of Sarawak. That is why the Sarawak government formed the Sarawak Economic Action Council (SEAC) in May last year.

We want Sarawak to recover from this pandemic with a stronger and more resilient economy and to sustain the level of economic and social development. This is to assure future generations of Sarawakians a happy, peaceful and prosperous state with opportunities for all, regardless of their racial, cultural or religious backgrounds or the regions they are from. To accomplish this, the state government has charted our journey for the next decade. Nobody knows when the pandemic will end but we know where we want to be, come 2030.

I am unveiling the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030 that outlines what we plan to do, and the strategic directions the government has devised to accomplish the objectives of the plan.

POST COVID-19 DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY 2030

Aspiration

Sarawak aspires to be a developed state by 2030. It will be a thriving society driven by data and innovation where everyone enjoys economic prosperity, social inclusivity and sustainable environment.

In terms of our economic prosperity, Sarawak needs to double the size of the economy from RM136 billion in 2019 to RM282 billion in 2030.  To achieve this target, Sarawak economy needs to grow on average 6.0% to 8.0% per annum until 2030.

Inclusive society means that all Sarawakians will have equal opportunities to participate in the state’s overall development and enjoy equitable distribution of wealth through jobs and business opportunities.

Environmental sustainability is an integral part of Sarawak’s development initiatives.  This is to ensure clean and healthy environment for current and future generations. Moving forward, Sarawak will innovate using data to increase productivity, develop high value products, improve safety of our people and assets as well as enhance environmental conservation efforts.

Therefore, the core objectives of PCDS 2030 are:

  • To change the economic structure by increasing the scale of production to capture efficiencies upstream, increasing downstream activities and growing the services sector to support primary and secondary sectors’ activities in a sustainable manner;
  • To modernise and increase efficiency driven by both digital and physical connectivity;
  • To increase household income to GDP share by creating more jobs and encouraging entrepreneurship; and
  • To place environmental sustainability in our recovery efforts and long-term economic growth. Currently, an increasing number of investors are placing greater importance on environmental sustainability when making investment decisions. We have seen a wave of shareholder activism for environmental efforts and all sectors must find ways to transit to a low carbon future. As such, our emphasis on environmental sustainability will pave the way for more investment inflow to Sarawak that will co-create solutions, and more green jobs and business opportunities to drive our economy on a sustainable manner.  Such collective action is crucial as we face the defining crisis of our generation – climate change.  

Strategic thrusts

There are seven strategic thrusts to accelerate the economic development, as follows:

  • Transforming Sarawak into a competitive economy by increasing productivity level, developing more high value downstream activities and creating new industries through active private sector involvement. For example, precision farming to increase quantity and quality of produce for high value downstream food processing products for domestic consumption and export market;
  • Improving ease of doing business to facilitate domestic investment (DDI) and making Sarawak an investment destination of choice for foreign investors (FDI). For example, by establishing Sarawak Invest as a one-stop agency for investment.
  • Spending on areas that yield the most economic, social and environmental impact.  For example, environmental-friendly construction (design and materials) of access road to social and economic hubs that will stimulate socio-economic activities and improve standard of living of the community;
  • Optimising use of assets and government funding and developing human capital to support socio-economic development. For example, rather than constructing new buildings, we should optimise the use of existing building spaces for productive activities. Human capital investment should focus on the right training to meet industrial needs of the sState to progress;
  • Accelerating digital adoption and data utilisation to generate outcomes. This will include establishing a statewide network coverage of telecommunication infrastructure and services that will enable the adoption of digital technology in agriculture for precision farming, industry 4.0, e-learning and telemedicine to support our digital economy initiatives towards high income and developed state by 2030;
  • Driving economic and social benefits for all Sarawakians, focusing on impoverished segment of the population. This includes providing the society with access to basic infrastructure and implementing concerted initiatives to help increase household income. For example, anchor out-grower model in the agriculture sector to help rural poor to gain better access to market and training programmes for urban poor to cultivate entrepreneurship; and
  • Balancing economic growth with environmental sustainability. Sarawak aims to balance economic growth with a responsible approach towards utilisation of natural resources and integration of climate adaptation and mitigation plans. This approach prioritises the sustainable use of land and ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of the land and ocean ecosystem. In line with sustainable development principles and commitments towards climate adaptation, various initiatives will be implemented such as to maintain more than 50% forest and tree cover, establish an integrated watershed management policy to conserve and protect water resources, increase urban green spaces and prioritise green mobility solutions, including developing electric vehicle (EV) based public transport systems and expansion of renewable energy.

Key economic sectors

The PCDS 2030 is anchored on six economic sectors as the main engines of growth, namely:

  • Manufacturing,
  • Commercial agriculture,
  • Tourism,
  • Forestry,
  • Mining, and
  • Social services.

The manufacturing sector aims to promote Sarawak as the preferred investment destination, especially for high-value downstream activities of resource and non-resource-based industries, both DDI and FDI.  This will be supported by the development of efficient ecosystem for private investment such as industrial parks equipped with industrial infrastructures and amenities. Among the initiatives are the development of Petrochemical Hub, extension of Samajaya Hi-Tech Park, Bio-Industrial Park and Furniture Park. At the same time, more entrepreneurship programmes involving local communities in businesses will be implemented to increase community participation especially in small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Sarawak aspires to be a net food exporter by 2030. This will be achieved through commercial agriculture sector that capitalises on modern farming and global partnerships. Commercial agriculture will attract private investment to accelerate the productivity and growth in this sector that will provide valuable feedstock to higher value-add downstream food processing, especially for the export market. Among the key initiatives are developing agro-parks, and high value downstream products, such as oleochemical and smart farming programmes.

Tourism is a key sector in driving Sarawak’s visibility and branding around the world. By 2030, Sarawak aims to be a leading destination for eco-tourism and business events in Asean region, driven by empowered communities to conserve heritage, culture and biodiversity and to promote investment and development in the tourism sector. More tourism products and assets will be developed, supported by increased connectivity and capacity building of local tourism players. Sarawak will promote Culture, Adventure, Nature, Food and Festivals and diversify Sarawak’s tourism focus into health tourism, sport tourism, agro-tourism and education tourism.  These initiatives are expected to increase the number of visitors by 7.5% per annum.

The forestry sector aims to be globally recognised in sustainable management of tropical forest and biodiversity conservation while enhancing the rapid growth of timber industry. Forest management practices and stewardship will focus on balancing rate of deforestation and growth, increasing product yield and enhancing services obtained from forests. In addition, sustainable approaches to monetise Sarawak’s rich resources will be implemented to provide economic opportunities for the rural communities. Among the initiatives are replanting of 200,000 hectares of degraded forest areas, implementing Carbon Credits Programmes, establishing bamboo plantation and developing bamboo-based industry and certification of 4.5 million hectares of long-term forest licence area (natural forest) by 2022 and 178,000 hectares forest plantation by 2025 under the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme and Forest Stewardship Council.

The mining sector in Sarawak is currently driven by oil and gas upstream activities, which provide the feedstock for petrochemical industry especially in Bintulu. Moving forward, Sarawak will explore into other mineral resources such as silica sand, rare earth elements (REE) and kaolin clay for high value downstream activities.  To support this development, the state will develop geological mapping to provide details such as location, reserve volume and grades of the minerals and design business models to facilitate investments in mining industry and downstream processing.

The well-being of the people is at the forefront of the state government’s agenda and is even more crucial that the welfare of the people is given due attention as we emerge from the economic and personal hardships encountered during the pandemic. The government wants to establish a firm foundation for the people to recover from the devastation caused to their lives and livelihood in the fight against the virus. Under the social services sector, Sarawak aims to provide a high living standard, healthy and inclusive society with affordable and innovative service delivery for Sarawakians. Among the key initiatives are poverty alleviation programmes and social welfare programmes such as SarawakCare Insurance, construction of State Research and Test Lab, new Normah Medical Specialist Centre, special needs welfare services and housing schemes.

Part 2 tomorrow