KUCHING: Sarawak has achieved positive economic growth despite global economic uncertainty, Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud said.
He said the state’s economy grew by 4.7% last year compared to 2.3% in 2016, while the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita increased from RM44,000 in 2016 to RM46,000.
Exports also grew from RM77bil in 2016 to RM96bil last year. The poverty rate meanwhile dropped from 0.9% in 2014 to 0.6% last year and unemployment remained at less than 4%.
“Sarawak’s growth is supported by strong economic fundamentals, good administration and financial management by the state government,” Taib said when opening the Sarawak Legislative Assembly session here yesterday.
He said the state government’s development plans, such as the Socio-Economic Transformation Plan, Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) and Digital Economy Plan, would continue to boost growth and attract investment.
“These are people-centric plans that will improve socio-economic standards and create jobs, especially for the talented and highly-skilled younger generation,” he said.
In particular, he said the Digital Economy Plan could increase productivity in sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and services by promoting the use of digital technology and applications.
“The digital economy has the potential to create new opportunities for our younger generation.
“I believe our young people have the creative and innovative skills necessary for the digital era,” he said.
On another matter, Taib expressed confidence that the state government would be able to manage Sarawak’s oil and gas resources for the benefit of the people.
He said efforts towards developing and managing these resources sustainably had been put in place, including the enforcement of the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 and Gas Distribution Ordinance 2016 and the formation of Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros).
“This is in line with Sarawak’s aspiration to become an oil and gas hub in the region and to collaborate with Petronas for the interest of Malaysia and the state,” he said.
As such, he said Sarawak’s rights to its territorial waters must be preserved so that the oil and gas resources found there could be developed to benefit the state.