Sarawak’s contribution to the national coffers in terms of taxes is projected to hit RM6 billion this year or nine per cent of the national direct revenue.
Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) chief executive officer and director general Datuk Hasmah Abdullah gave the projection at a press conference yesterday but she did not know where Sarawak stood compared to other states in the country.
“I’m not sure about the rating but as I have told the Sarawak (LHDN) director (Romli A Hamid), Sabah has already overtaken Sarawak this year,” she said in jest.
Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had said in his speech at the opening of the 10th Study Group on Asian Tax Administration and Research (SGATAR) working level meeting earlier that the state was a “significant contributor to the federal revenue in terms of direct taxes.”
He said in 2006, Sarawak contributed RM4.681 billion or 7.23 per cent of the total national direct revenue and in 2007, its total tax contribution was RM5.658 billion or 7.57 per cent of the national direct revenue.
Taib, who is the state Finance Minister, pointed out that the fundamental economic driving force of the state was its abundant natural resources which had yet to be developed fully in areas of energy and plantations.
“When we have fully developed our natural resources and modernised the economy, the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) will bring immense benefits to our rural and remote areas as well as existing urban centres and cities,” he said.
Taib’s speech was delivered by Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh.
The SGATAR meeting was hosted by LHDN Malaysia.
SGATAR, which was established in 1970 as a loose regional grouping, has 15 member countries.
Giving the audience an insight into the state’s economic progress, Taib said SCORE was a major initiative undertaken to develop the central region of Sarawak and transform the state into a developed state by the year 2020.
“It aims to achieve the goals of accelerating the state’s economic growth and development, as well as improving the quality of life for the people of Sarawak,” he said.
He pointed out that the core of the corridor was the energy resources, particularly hydropower, coal and natural gas.
He said they would allow Sarawak to price its energy competitively and encourage investments in power generation and energy-intensive industries that would act as ‘triggers’ for industrial development in the corridor.
He added that 10 priority industries had been identified under SCORE - oil-based, aluminium, metal-based, glass, tourism, palm oil, timber-based, livestock, fishing and aquaculture, and marine engineering.
The 10 industries, he said, would be promoted and developed extensively through greater private sector participation.
Moreover, he said the development of the 10 industries and their associated downstream value-added activities would be the driving force behind the growth of the industrial development of the corridor.
“The overarching goal of the Sarawak corridor is to develop our full economic potential and create investment and job opportunities in the state as a galvanising force to unite all the races of Sarawak,” Taib added.