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Budget 2014 A Huge Disappointment From Sabah Perspective – Dr. Jeffrey

Kota Kinabalu:    “The Budget 2014 must have been a huge disappointment to Tan Sri Pairin, PBS and many others in Sabah and clearly demonstrates the continuing mindset of the Prime Minister and his federal government” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief in commenting on the Budget announcement.

The PM himself had whipped up expectations of Sabahans especially the PBS delegates at their general assembly by asking Sabahans to wait for Friday’s Budget announcement.
On a national level, the PM cum Finance Minister missed the opportunity to put the national economy on a stronger footing by announcing a balanced Budget or a reduction of the operating expenditure of RM217.7 billion while only RM46.5 billion was for development or to put in place concrete plans to boost the disposable incomes of the lower income groups.  

All three proposals would have brought about a better international credit rating and at the same time increase the well-being of the people especially the lower income groups.

Giving of handouts is not the right approach and there is no need to fish for votes for election season is over.  Such handouts will only lead to bigger expectations and eventually greater dependency,  especially among the rural poor. The government should have invested more money in boosting up the income earning capacity of the poor.

Giving of RM75 million in water tanks is no way to treat the rural voters who voted to retain the Umno/BN federal government.   If not for the 25 BN MPs in Sarawak, the Budget would have been presented by a different Finance Minister.

It would have been better to spend RM500 million on 20 water treatment plants of RM25 million each to provide clean piped water in rural Sarawak given the many big dams there.

Instead, some of the items will bring about an instantaneous price increase including withdrawal of sugar subsidies.  What was more laughable was the reason bordering on absurdity that the subsidy cut was required to reduce diabetes in Malaysians.   It is an undisputed medical fact that diabetes is not caused by sugar alone and a lower sugar intake alone does not reduce the diabetic rate.

Back to Sabah, stop-gap measures is not going to resolve the systemic problems of higher costs of living and high unemployment.



An announcement of the much called for and much awaited abolishment of cabotage policy would have created a bigger impact in reduction of costs compared to the RM331 million to continue the price uniformity programme and subsidies including transport cost and RM30 million for an additional 60 Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M) to help reduce the prices of daily necessities.

Both the federal and Sabah governments should undertake a study on the impact of the KRIM in Sabah as there are complaints that the KRIM has affected the small sundry and provision shops in Sabah and many will eventually close down.

An allocation of RM2 to RM3 billion development expenditure for Sabah and Sarawak is a slap on the status of the equal partnership of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia.   

Part of this allocation, RM500 million is for upgrading of the Pan Borneo Highway.    This is a disgrace and totally unacceptable.   For the record, RM400 million was announced for the 33km. Sibu-Kapit road.   How far can RM500 million do for the Pan Borneo Highway?

Recently, the Sabah JKR Director lamented that due to the backlog or disregard of Sabah’s requests, RM2 billion was needed for urgent road repairs in Sabah and another RM700 million was needed to urgently repair and upgrade 65 bridges in Sabah.   Yet, there is not even a mention of any allocation in Budget 2014 and not the right way to treat Sabah which contributed 22 out of 25 MPs that help kept the Umno/BN federal government in power.

As for the GST, both the federal and Sabah governments need to re-assess the imposition of GST in Sabah.    If the federal government can have implement 1-country 2-laws on the “Allah” issue which indirectly is a recognition of the 1-Country 2-System, the federal government can exempt Sabah and Sarawak from the GST scheduled in 2015, at least for 3-5 years

Whilst the PM continue to disregard the importance of Sabah and Sarawak and committing political hara-kiri in the process, it is high time for the Sabah and Sarawak governments to re-assess their support of the Umno/BN federal government.  

Perhaps, a withdrawal of support and change of the federal government may bring about a better 2015 Budget for Sabah and Sarawak and a shot in the arm for both local economies and a better outlook and way of life for Sabahans and Sarawakians.

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