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Lajim prefers to see it as a deficit budget
Published on: Tuesday, November 21, 2017

THE proposed 2018 State Budget tabled by Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman is actually a deficit budget in which the estimated RM4.2 billion expenditure is projected to be higher by next year.

Opposition Leader in the Assembly, Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin, said the most glaring part was the failing of the State Government to give focus on development and basic needs of the people and Sabah.

"Only RM838.31 million was allocated for development section under 12 State ministries which accounted only 20 per cent. Sarawak doubled its budget, compared to Sabah, and allocated 70 per cent of its RM8 billion Sarawak Budget for development.

"However, after Sabah government received 'goodwill' allocation from the Federal budget for RM251.75 million, the estimation development budget for Sabah's next year rose to RM1.3 billion, which contradicted the Budget theme 2018 'Strengthening Economy, Prospering the People'," he said.

Lajim who is also Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah (Harapan) President said the Sabah government should feel challenged with Sarawak's sincere concern in allocating huge funds for development of the wellbeing of its people.

In fact, he said, the neglect of providing more funds in development category in the Sabah Budget 2018 is same with the National Budget 2018 as announced by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

"The world was informed that the National Budget 2018 was known as the 'Mother of all Budgets' due to total development allocation that was highest in history as announced by Najib. The total budget amount was increased compared to previous year, but unfortunately, the development funds were declining from 18.3 per cent in 2017 to 16.41 percent for next year.

"The easy way to understand the Federal development funds is that every RM10 from the total fund in 2018 budget, only RM1.60 was allotted for development," he said.

In the State Budget 2018, Lajim said Sabah received oil and gas royalty for RM1.32 billion in 2017 which exceeded its original target of RM985 million and the highest amount ever received in the history of Sabah or could be considered as the mother of all royalties.

He said it is a public knowledge that the royalty is only five per cent from the overall oil and gas revenue procured from Sabah's soil while estimation of 95 percent received by the Federal Government this year almost reached RM20 billion.

"With the 20 per cent in oil and gas royalty, more allocations can be allocated and spent for Sabah's development. This aspiration was also shared by neighbouring State, Sarawak, especially in ensuring the huge gap in development is not balanced when compared with development in the peninsula.

"Therefore, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government particularly BN Sabah leaders must be more active in taking initiatives to ensure the royalty is increased and not permanent or static for the wellbeing of the people now but also for our children, grandchildren and the next generations," he said.

Compared to the peninsula, Lajim said the road development in Sabah is still lagging behind until causing difficulties for rural communities to commute from one destination to another.

Based on the Sabah Budget 2018, he said RM37.5 million has been allocated to build and upgrade several roads in Kota Kinabalu, Penampang and Inanam while RM28 million will be used to upgrade several roads in Tamparuli, Kota Belud and Ranau.

However, he said no allocation was mentioned for upgrading or building new roads in the East Coast of Sabah as if the area was being sidelined.

Of 21,934 km road distance, he said only half or 11,355 km are sealed while the remaining half are gravel roads, muddy roads or timber roads.

"No one can deny that the roads connecting Sandakan, Semporna, Tawau, and Lahad Datu still have potholes, uneven roads, wavy roads, muddy roads and imperfect patches.

"For example, just look at the road construction to upgrade the alternative route from Kota Kinabalu to Tawau via Sapulut and Kalabakan for 145 kilometres, only half of the stretch has been sealed," he said.

On the Pan Borneo Highway project, Lajim said implementation of the project is not smooth as stated by BN National and Sabah leaders due to delay on the earlier packages.

Up to June 2017, four packages that are under construction in Sabah could not be completed on time while another two packages are still under pre-construction works.

"For the package from Donggongon to Papar (11.7km), the current progress is 22.34 per cent (actual) compared to 35.11 per cent (schedule). For the package from Tawau to Semporna (5km) the current progress is 30.20 per cent (actual) compared to 39.67 per cent (schedule). - Hayati Dzulkifli

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