SIBU: Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang yesterday pointed out that it was better for Sarawak not to include the state sales tax on petroleum in the State 2020 Budget. The tax had not been paid by Petronas.

“If we look at the revenue collected till Sept 30 this year which was at RM5.653 billion and compare it to the expenditure for the same period of time at RM8.120 billion, we are already short of RM2.467 billion for the revenues collected this year.

“This, as explained in the budget, was because of the state sales tax which has not been paid on petroleum products by Petronas.

“The state government has not made sure that this sum is paid by Petronas first before including it again as an estimate revenue for the State 2020 Budget for the estimated expenditure next year.

“In other words, we are spending what we do not have yet. And this is worrying,” said Chang. 

Because if eventually, the state government did not get the state sales tax from Petronas first and proceed to a long-protracted trial in court, then the state government would need to find other sources for the estimated expenditure to be incurred next year and the years ahead, she added.

Chang said she was concerned that in tabling the budget, the chief minister had included the development expenditure for 2020 revenues which have not been recovered yet.

She added it would have been more prudent for the state government to settle the issue with Petronas first and to commence court proceedings if that fails before putting the figure in as estimated revenue for next year.

She described the budget as quite wide ranging as it targeted many groups of people.