SUPP’s Kho: Budget allocation ‘not as simple as divisional maths’, S’wak’s rural devt fund always higher than cities

SUPP Women chief Kho Teck Wan

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KUCHING, July 17: Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Women chief Kho Teck Wan asserts that budget allocation is “never as simple as divisional maths” and that Sarawak’s rural development fund is always higher than that of cities.

In a statement, Kho claimed that Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen used the equal distribution formula to argue that the Batu Kawa constituency, under Deputy Premier of Sarawak Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, is being unfairly treated with a limited budget allocation from both the State and Federal government.

“Having been a YB (elected representative) for 19 years, I am surprised that YB Chong didn’t know Sarawak’s rural development fund is always higher than cities.

“As we all know, 70 per cent of the Sarawak budget is used and will continue to be used to develop rural areas,” she said.

She went on to say that Sarawak’s development programmes are all-inclusive and aim to benefit all Sarawakians, regardless of where they live.

She explained that the cost to develop rural areas is always higher than that of urban areas because building materials must be transported by land, air, and water and that the terrain and size of the land frequently hamper the development process; adding that budget allocation is “never as simple as divisional mathematics”.

Kho cited Prime Minister Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s 2023 national budget allocation as an example of budget allocation based on critical national security rather than equal distribution.

“Sarawak was allocated RM5.4 billion in PM Anwar Ibrahim’s 2023 budget. RM1 billion were allocated to border protection and transportation development plans.

“Based on YB Chong’s equal distribution argument, the border protection, which took up a huge percentage of the total budget, is considered not fairly distributed.

“Shall we oppose a project allocated to border towns but will protect not only the people who live near the border but also the entire State of Sarawak?”

She further stressed that bordering town development and transportation links are critical to national security, so Anwar allocated additional funds to strengthen bordering town transportation and security.

“Most of the Federal budget is allocated to build the Pan Borneo Highway. The highway doesn’t go through Padungan under YB Chong. Is it considered an unfair distribution of the Federal budget?

Kho, who is also political secretary to Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, cited the Kuching Flood Mitigation Plan Phase 2 with an estimated RM2.7 billion proposed budget as another example of a large budget proposed for an area to benefit the surrounding areas.

She stated that the project would mainly span the Tupong area but protect the whole of Kuching, including Batu Kawa, from flash floods.

“Should we oppose such a huge proposed budget at Tupong and consider it an unfair distribution of budget?”

She continued, “In Sarawak, development funds are allocated in each constituency. However, based on different needs and urgency, some areas will be given more to ensure equal and better living.”

Kho then suggested that Chong fight for Stampin’s share of federal allocation, given that Pakatan Harapan (PH) is the ruling government.

“I would also like to know how much development fund YB Chong was able to secure for Kota Sentosa, Bandar Kuching, and Stampin during his 19-year tenure as YB,” she remarked.

On July 15, it was reported that Dr Sim, who is also Batu Kawa assemblyman, has injected a total of RM363,226,141 worth of development grants into his constituency from 2016 to 2022.

The grants were used to implement various development projects and people-centric policies. — DayakDaily