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KUCHING, Oct 12: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has described Budget 2020 as an expansionary budget in an attempt to spur the economy and creating jobs.
He said on top of that, the Development expenditure was up RM1.3 billion, as the government planned to “revitalise” the economy by accelerating infrastructure projects such as the Pan Borneo Highway in Sarawak.
“For Sarawak, the general development expenditure is RM4.47 billion, which is about 14.8 per cent of the total development fund, the second-highest after Sabah.
“The total development fund for Sabah and Sarawak amounts to 31.8 per cent of total development fund,” he said in a statement.
He added that the federal government has increased the total financial grant to Sarawak, as mentioned in MA63, to RM1.3 billion, which is the biggest in the whole country.
“Part of that is the review of Special Grants under Article 112(D) of the Federal Constitution, which was never reviewed since 1969 under the previous administration.
“The Pakatan Harapan Government then doubled the special grant to RM32 million for the year 2020 and will increase it further to RM64 million in the next 5 years,” Dr Yii said.
He added that to improve the infrastructures in Sarawak, the federal government has allocated RM250 million to improve Internet connectivity via satellite in remote areas including Sabah.
He said RM115 million is also allocated to Sarawak to meet the target of 99 per cent access to clean water, estimated to benefit 7,500 households, and RM287 million for rural electrification, benefiting 16,000 households.
Under the Jalan Luar Bandar programme (rural road), RM190 million will be allocated to build 120km of roads in Sarawak, will be completed in 2020 and benefitting 5,900 rural population.
Meanwhile, under the Jalan Perhubungan Desa programme (village road connectivity), RM35 million will be allocated to complete rural roads in Sarawak to benefit 30,000 households.
“To address the issues of dilapidated schools, on top of the RM1 billion contra-loan, the federal government has allocated RM350 million for 37 new projects and RM50 million for 183 existing projects,” he said.
Dr Yii believed that in the Sarawak context, Budget 2020 has allocated the biggest share to the state in terms of development and financial grants.
“On top of that, many other allocations including the biggest allocations to education and healthcare will benefit a huge population of Sarawak as well.
“The improvement of the terms in government incentives such as MySalam and PekaB40 will benefit a huge chunk of Sarawakians, where the state has the highest number of B40 in the country.”
Dr Yii said efforts by the government to pump in RM6.5 billion to create more quality jobs will also benefit many Sarawakians, especially considering the state has quite a high unemployment rate.
The DAP lawmaker believed there is still room for improvement in the Budget, especially to properly address the imbalance in development among the regions in the country and help Sarawak catch up in many aspects to fully enjoy the vision of shared prosperity.
“While we acknowledge that the lack of development due to mismanagement for the past 50 over years cannot be addressed even in a few years, but more allocations, especially with regards to more development and providing necessities are still needed especially in the rural areas.
“I will be pushing for a higher allocation under Special Grants Article 112(d) of Federal Constitution, as well as get updates on the negotiations between the prime minister and the chief minister on our rights to our oil and gas and other natural resources,” he said. — DayakDaily