KUCHING, June 24: The state government is giving rural development high priority as it does not make much sense to become a developed state when many households are still struggling to make ends meet.
In stating this, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said besides providing basic infrastructure and amenities, his administration would be reviewing relevant policies and practices that hinder rural development and would also push for more rural economic activities.
The government’s seriousness in this endeavour was apparent when the state government recently announced allocations such as RM1 billion for telecommunication infrastructure and RM1 billion for the provision of water supplies on top of existing allocations, he said.
“I am aware that there are critical issues that need to be addressed so that development disparities between the urban areas and the rural areas can be reduced.
“The state government will work closely with the federal government to ensure that the development allocation for the rural areas is not adversely affected by the change of government,” he said at the State Gawai Dayak 2018 dinner at Penview Convention Centre (PCC) in Jalan Demak here on Saturday night.
Abang Johari assured that the government would also address the issue of income disparity between urban and rural communities.
He said for this to happen, more economic activities would be promoted in the rural areas so that the rural populace could benefit from income derived directly or indirectly form these activities.
These activities include more innovative approaches to develop unutilised land, such as Native Customary Rights (NCR) land.
“I also would like to encourage more rural entrepreneurs to be developed. As such, we need to have policies that can facilitate such entrepreneurship to flourish.
“For example, I have already agreed and decided that for small entrepreneurs and smallholders, a land title is no longer a pre-condition for government assistance and employment of foreign labour.
“This will greatly benefit the NCR landowners who have felt disadvantaged by policies that they see as not being friendly to them,” he said.
Abang Johari said the state government would review policies and practises that might hinder rural development.
“We have to find new and innovative ways to inject vigour into the rural areas, such as modern farming and other economic activities that can generate income for the rural people.
“There is not much sense when we talk about becoming or being a developed state when there are households who are still struggling to make ends meet through their subsistence activities,” he said. — DayakDaily