KOTA KINABALU, Sept 10, 2015:
An opposition Sabah lawmaker today had demanded the federal government allocate Sabah and Sarawak half of next year’s Budget for development expenditure.
State Reform Party Sabah (Star Sabah) chief Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, in making the call, said there should be no more excuses for overlooking development in Sabah and Sarawak next year, because he said under the Budget 2015, none were allocated for the two states as opposed to RM50.5 billion for West Malaysian states.
The Bingkor assemblyman said Budget 2016 will seriously test Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s sincerity towards his many promises to quicken and increase development for Sabah and Sarawak as well as his 11th Malaysia Plan’s proposal to make Kuching and Kota Kinabalu as development hubs.
“It may also jeopardise the support from Sabah and Sarawak which are his ‘fixed deposit’ States and whose support are keeping him as Prime Minister if he fail to fulfill the promises he made for Sabahans and Sarawakians,” said Kitingan.
He therefore suggested that for Budget 2016, Najib, who is also the Finance Minister, to allocate RM2.5 billion for the Phase I of Kota Kinabalu Monorail System with another RM1 billion for repairs of over 600 road slopes which have been outstanding since 2009, RM2 billion for road repairs and another RM700 million for upgrading of 62 bridges.
“The road slope repairs and road repairs are not only urgent but more than justified as the Sabah government incurred losses estimated at more than RM2.55 billion due to landslides while bad road conditions have caused many accidents and deaths.”
Another RM900 million should be allocated for the much needed six overhead interchanges in Kota Kinabalu that will help reduce traffic congestion and make Kota Kinabalu a more liveable city and more traffic friendly for tourists.
Kitingan stressed that Najib should also provide an appropriate budget for the Sabah government to take control of its education sector which will also be part of the handover of autonomy in education to Sabah as was promised to Sarawak.
This includes RM1 billion for repairs of some 600 dilapidated schools that were promised by then Deputy Prime Minister cum Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin when visiting Sarawak in Feb last year.
Along with education, Jeffrey also called on Najib to start the provide autonomy to Sabah for several federal departments such as the Road Transport Department, Agriculture Department, Arts and Culture Department, Fisheries Department.
“It is envisaged that there will be substantial savings in the federal budget as lesser amounts would need to be allocated for Sabah especially where Sabah has similar departments and agencies such as the Sabah Agriculture Department, Culture Board and Maritime Department.”
For the welfare and well-being of Sabahans, Kitingan said Sabah should be exempted from next year’s Goods Services Tax (GST) , stressing that based on the RM1.2 billion estimated collections for the nine months since April 1 this year, it would only cost the federal government RM1.5 billion, which is a small change given the tens of billions collected from Sabah including oil revenues, federal taxes and other collections.
But for the 3.2 million Sabahans, it will mean a savings of RM468.75 per person which translates to RM39.06 or almost 5% monthly for those with the minimum monthly wage of RM800.
“Last but not least, an allocation of RM2 billion should be set aside to be returned to Sabah as part of the 40% net revenue derived from Sabah which is legally payable under the 10th Schedule of the Federal Constitution,” he said, adding that if it is not fulfilled, it would cost the ruling government in the coming election.