|Foto The Borneo Post|
KUCHING: The government will continue to take proactive measures to develop the rural areas, especially those with the economic potential that can be harnessed towards enhancing state economy.
Deputy Finance Minister II Datuk Lee Chee Leong said this would enable the rural areas to catch up with the urban areas, in terms of development.
“Hence, greater emphasis is being given to develop the necessary infrastructure and amenities such as road, drainage, telecommunication as well as electricity and water supply projects aimed at improving the quality of life (of the rural people), and also attracting more investments into these areas,” Lee said in his opening remarks in chairing the 2017 Budget focus group meeting on ‘Sarawak Development’ at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here yesterday.
He pointed out that in tandem with the country’s efforts towards its high-income and developed nation status by 2020, the federal government would give its main priority to Sarawak development to improve its economic and social wellbeing.
In the 2016 Budget, he said the government allocated RM29.2 billion for Sarawak and Sabah development programmes, including the Pan Borneo Highway.
“The 1,089km toll-free highway will provide better connectivity and close the gap between the urban and rural areas in Sarawak. Moreover, the 70,000 square kilometres of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) will provide 1.6 million additional jobs in the industrial area. In addition, the government provided BR1M (1Malaysia People’s Aid) to more than 700,000 recipients, amounting almost RM550 million in 2016.”
Lee noted that 2016 was a major year not only for Sarawak, but the nation as a whole as it marked the first year of the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP).
“As we are all aware, one of the government’s main focuses for this year is on the development agenda of Sarawak.” He said over the last five years, Sarawak economy had registered positive growth and made great contributions to the Malaysian economy.
“Sarawak GDP (Gross Domestic Product) recorded a steady growth of 10 per cent since 2010, mainly contributed by the services, manufacturing, mining and quarrying, and agricultural industries.
“The expansion of Sarawak economy (is) underpinned by huge capital investments amounting to RM44.6 billion, from 2011 until March 2016. In addition, Sarawak also receives large allocation from the federal government to further develop the economy.
“From 2010 to 2014, Sarawak received RM57 billion consisting of operating expenditure, development expenditure and grants.”
On June 16, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak chaired the 2017 Budget consultation with the theme ‘Accelerating Growth, Enduring Fiscal Prudence, Enhancing Wellbeing of the Rakyat (People)’.
Following the consultation, the Finance Ministry is running a series of focus group meetings to discuss in details the issues highlighted during the consultation, and also to obtain views and recommendations for consideration in the 2017 Budget, which is scheduled for tabling on Oct 21.
The focus group meeting yesterday involved various stakeholders including the federal agencies, Sarawak state agencies and statutory bodies, academia andSarawak non-governmental organisations.
State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani and Sarawak Federal Secretary Datuk Mohd Zuki Ali were among those attending. -BP