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SIBU, Oct 28: Sarawak should be given one-third allocation in the National Budget 2022 which will be unveiled by Finance Minister, Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz tomorrow, opined Sarawak Dayak Iban Association Rajang (Sadia-Rajang) chairman Bill Jugah.
Bill said today that the one-third allocation from the budget is not excessive as the State, including Sabah, has been the main contributor of income to the country, especially its petroleum and gas exports.
Bill said the State needs more funds as it is still far behind in development.
“In the spirit of Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysia Family), a one-third allocation in the Budget is all that we ask for. We don’t want the Keluarga Malaysia theme to be just rhetoric, as action should come with words,” he said.
Bill said it is high time that the Federal government pay serious attention to the lack of infrastructure and Internet coverage in the state.
“The Federal government has taken steps to improve Internet facilities in the State but more is needed and we thank the Federal and State governments for that. Special attention should also be given to stateless children, who due to their status, have to incur more costs to buy textbooks as they do not qualify for textbooks on loan.
A resident of Sungai Asap, Belaga, Umie Liau hopes that the government will consider the request for additional infrastructure for people in rural areas.
“We have been staying here for the past 23 years. From this Budget, I sincerely hope that the government will this time gives us better roads, better Internet connectivity, rebuild dilapidated schools, treated water and electricity supplies,” said Umie, who is the Kenyah Uma Baha Women’s Association Sibu chairperson.
According to her, Internet connectivity in the area is so poor that students who are relying on online learning have been badly affected.
Most of the longhouses also do not have treated water, while electricity supply in the area is unstable.
“There are no roads to oil palm plantations and this has affected the smallholders who are locals. We also don’t have a hospital, and we have been asking for all these for a long time, and hope they can be given to us this time,” she said.
A restaurant operator, Pang Chui Hua, does not want to see a populist budget that only tries to please the people at the expense of the country’s mounting debt.
“Our country is not very robust. The economy is in the doldrums and we owe a lot of money. Hopefully our Budget is not a populist budget splashing out too much money in trying to please the people,” he said.
Pang instead wants the Budget to give more attention to education.
“Spend more on quality education to transform our country into an educated, high income and modern society,” he said.