KUCHING, Nov 3: Statements of several Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) leaders does not paint the full picture of how Sarawakians benefit from the 2019 budget, said Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii.
Just because there isn’t the word “Sarawak” before an allocation, does not mean it will not benefit the state and its people directly, explained the DAP lawmaker.
“I find their criticism most ironic and misleading when they claimed that Sarawak received little mention or benefit in comparison to the previous Barisan Nasional budget,” he said in a statement.
While there were good critics and feedback, Dr Yii said leaders from SUPP, PBB, PRS and others have come out to discount the budget, making claims that Sarawak has been left out, and that it is nothing special.
“The reality, there is an increase is the development fund to Sarawak, although slight, but still an increase. The development allocated to Sarawak in this year’s budget increased from RM4.336 billion in 2018, to RM4.346 billion for next year, on top of the continuation of the Pan Borneo Highway.
“The same criticism somehow wasn’t given when former prime minister Najib Tun Razak had given less development funds to Sarawak. Instead, he was even hailed as ‘the best prime minister for Sarawak’ by the same GPS leaders that are criticizing the budget right now,” Dr Yii lamented.
He said that by looking at the development fund alone is an incorrect picture of how Sarawak can benefit from the budget.
“There are more allocations given to other ministries that will highly benefit Sarawakians. The budget gives a lot of focus to help the B40 group and Sarawak could have one of the highest figure in the nation,” he continued.
Based on the National Statistics 2017, Dr Yii revealed that Sarawak registered a total of 118,266 poor and hardcore poor citizens, the highest in Malaysia, followed by Kelantan at 92,171 and Sabah 76,109.
“This goes to show that a huge chunk of Sarawakians, especially the poor, will benefit from the different initiatives under the new budget,” he said.
Dr Yii explained that under the Pakatan Harapan government, there are multiple aid programmes and initiatives targeted to the B40 community including EPF to housewives, increasing job opportunities for the poor, as well as increasing the quality of health care delivery and social welfare protection.
A total of RM 100 million was allocated for Skim Perlindungan Kesihatan, which gives free health screening for the B40 group, as well as RM1 billion to set up a National Protection Plan for the B40 population.
On top of that, he added that the government will allocate a total of RM150 million to standardise the prices of essential products including food, especially between the rural and urban areas in Sabah and Sarawak.
“Two ministries, Education and Healthcare, that has a lot of importance in Sarawak and the whole nation, have also received higher allocations. There is an increase of RM15 billion or 34 per cent for education, as well as an increase of RM3 billion or 7.8 per cent for healthcare.
“This shows that the government prioritised in investing into these important sectors that are in dire need, especially in Sarawak. On top of that, a total of RM12 million is allocated to Chinese Independent Schools.” — DayakDaily