Published on: Friday, April 11, 2014
Kota Kinabalu: The State Structural Plan is being reviewed and streamlined by the State Government in an effort to create a conducive environment for a better quality of life for the people, said Head of State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin.
He said the Structural Plan would be an important instrument in steering the State's development direction that will be implemented in the Local Plan and District Plan in more detail.
Delivering the State Government's Policy in his speech in conjunction with the opening of the first meeting of the 14th State Legislative Assembly's Second Term here Thursday, Juhar said the State Government is also continuing infrastructure development for the benefit of the people.
"Last year, the State Government managed to spend 89 per cent of the RM418.5 million allocated for infrastructure projects," he said.
He said this year the State Government's main focus would be on planning and implementation of high-impact projects that included road network and clean water supply projects, modernisation of the rail system and upgrading of the maritime infrastructure.
At the same time, the Government is playing its role in providing affordable homes and to ensure a balanced regional development.
In the next five years, 10,000 units of affordable houses would be built in the town areas and outskirts by private developers while the Federal Government through the National Housing Department will assist in building 10,000 houses under the People's Housing Programme (PPR) this year.
Juhar also praised and thanked the State Government under the leadership of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman for the stability and bringing in more developments and investments to Sabah.
The Head of State expressed his confidence that the tourism industry, which is among the major contributors to Sabah's economic growth, would continue to grow this year.
Last year, 3.38 million tourist arrivals were recorded that marked an increase of 17.6 per cent compared to the previous year's figure and exceeding the initial target of 3 million. He said in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2014, the sector had targeted 3.5 million tourist arrivals that could generate RM6.635 billion in returns.
He added that as of January this year, domestic arrivals were recorded at 181,424, which is a growth of 25.2 per cent, while international arrivals in the same period also increased by 19.7 per cent.
"I believe with these achievements it will further boost confidence of the airline companies to increase flight into Sabah. At the moment, there are 146 direct flights to 17 international destinations with a total capacity of 22,829 passengers in a week," he said. Juhar praised the noble efforts by the State Government in completing various projects for the prosperity of the people that included the 5.2km jogging and cycling track as well as the Queen Elizabeth Hospita1 1 new building.
He was confident that high-impact projects such as the Kota Kinabalu Waterfront and Sabah International Convention Centre would boost the image of the city.
The establishment of the Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) that has started operation in December last year here had improved the Government's delivery system, he said. Juhar said the Government also was very committed in addressing poverty.
"In this respect, I would like to congratulate the State Government for drastically reducing the poverty rate from 19.7 per cent in 2009 to 8.1 per cent in 2012," he said.
"I am confident with continuous efforts and strong cooperation between the State and Federal Governments, the target of reducing poverty rate to 3 per cent by 2018 can be achieved," he said.
On the forest management, Juhar said the State Government is committed to increase its totally protected areas from 1.35 million hectares to 2.1 million hectares 10 years from now.
In fact, he said the State Government is striving to identify several areas to be gazetted as First Class Forest Reserve and boost its acreage to one million hectares this year.
Juhar said the manufacturing sector remained as a main contributor to the State's economic growth.
From 2009 to 2013, Sabah has received a total of RM16.2 billion worth of investments, he said.
He said the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (Sedia) was focusing on attracting more investments in the value-added activities as well as promoting the small and medium-sized industries for the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), which is now in its second phase (2011-2015).
Committed investments in the SDC reached RM127 billion as at Dec 31, 2013 of which RM25 billion has been realised.
"The Government has also provided cluster industrial parks such as Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park, Lahad Datu Palm Oil Industry Cluster (POIC), Sandakan POIC and Sabah Oil and Gas Industrial Park in Sipitang which has created job and business opportunities for the locals," he said.
He said the manufacturing sector created 43,475 job opportunities in the past three years.
On the expansion of cellular and broadband services coverage, he said the State Government targeted at least 90 per cent online service usage.
Juhar also recorded gratitude to Petronas for its support in the development of youth skills in Sabah through cooperation with five training institutions, namely Kolej Yayasan Sabah, Giat Mara Kimanis, Kota Kinabalu Industrial Training Institute, Papar Technical and Commerce Training Institute as well as IKM.
He also paid tribute to Sabah athletes who have put the name of the State on a higher pedestal by winning various competitions last year.
At the international level, Sabah athletes had represented Malaysia in the recent Sea Games and also going to the Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
"Apart from that, we are also proud that 10 paralympians from Sabah won a total of 19 medals in the Asean Paralympics in Myanmar from Jan 11 to 20 this year," he said.
Juhar said the Government would be promoting spots tourism through national and international class events like Climbathon, inter-Borneo cycling race, dragon boat race and rapid water kayaking, among others.
Meanwhile, he called on everyone to give full commitment in order to move Sabah forward to a higher development phase and achieve the developed state and high-income status.
"We must be ready to change our way of thinking, be more innovative and disciplined as well as have a sense of urgency in facing the growing challenges ahead," he said.
Juhar also called on the people in the State to continue upholding unity to ensure the present progress and development prevails.
Sitting was adjourned to Monday.