The Sarawak government says it is looking to build 4,402 km of new roads in the state by 2030, but will need funding to the tune of RM24.8 billion to accomplish the task, Bernama reports.

Deputy chief minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said that the proposed roads – which aims to connect more than 1,000 existing roads and all 5,000 settlements in the state – would require RM1.9 billion a year to build for every 338 km if they are built within the 14-year period at the projected cost.

“Whether the government has the money to build those roads or not is another question. But out of interest I am telling you that Sarawak alone collects approximately RM2 billion a year in goods and services tax (GST), while we need RM1.9 billion a year to build the roads until 2030,” Masing told reporters.

He ventured that GST was a good means for the government to collect funds for infrastructure development to compensate for the low price of oil and gas. “You can see the connection there, that if we keep the money collected from GST we have more than enough to fulfil our dream of connecting the whole of Sarawak. We have the money, but do we have the political will to influence the (federal) government to allow that to happen,” he added.

He said that a proper discussion will be held on whether some of the GST money could be used to build the roads, adding that he would bring up the matter for discussion with the state government. “The spirit to fight for what is required by Sarawak is important and I am sure the federal government will appreciate that and will understand the need for us to develop,” Masing stated.