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Changes in 10 key areas: CM
Published on: Sunday, November 17, 2019
By: Hayati Dzulkifli

KOTA KINABALU: The State Government has implemented 10 key transformations and improvement initiatives within just one year and four months that brought many benefits and advantages to the people despite numerous challenges and obstacles.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (pic) said these include strengthening the state fundamentals in order to accelerate development.

“This transformation is important because Sabah is endowed with natural resources such as palm oil, timber, oil and gas that can be utilized and developed for the benefit of the people. 

“After more than 50 years and having gone through 11 Malaysia Five Year Development Plans, downstream activities are still low. This is one of the major factors that has caused Sabah to be far behind in terms of development and economic growth. However, State resources need to be explored and utilized responsibly in order to generate sustainable income and wealth for the benefit of future generations,” he said.

Therefore, Shafie said the State Government emphasizes on clean and environmental friendly industries which is important, so that our desire for wealth and progress will not damage the natural environment. 

Thus, he said the State Government will continue to focus on environmental protection, human capital development and to provide high quality infrastructure as well as basic amenities in order to support and expand developing sectors to be more competitive and sustainable.

Among the main transformations, he said first, the government has fulfilled its manifesto to set up three new ministries namely the Ministry of Education and Innovation, Ministry of Law and Native Affairs and Ministry of Health and People’s Wellbeing that are new administrative machineries and platforms for the State government to achieve its goal of strengthening human capital, protecting natives’ rights and improving wellbeing of the people of Sabah.

Second, the government intensified efforts to empower human capital as one of the most important and vital assets in developing Sabah.

“This year, the State Government allocated RM52 million under the Ministry of Education and Innovation for State scholarships, bursaries and financial assistance for students.

“This allocation has increased by 67.5 per cent from RM40.6 million in 2018 under the previous government’s budget as at Oct this year, RM42.93 million was spent on State government scholarships to help 5,279 students, including sponsoring 20 students at various higher learning institutions abroad.

“The remaining allocation will be utilised to fund scholarships and assistance to students that are currently being processed,” Shafie said.

Thirdly, he said in line with the establishment of Ministry of Law and Native Affairs as well as manifesto to guarantee native land ownership in Sabah, the government has abolished land policy on Communal Title.

As of Oct this year, he said 48 communal titles have been revoked throughout Sabah that involved 82 villages and 51,169 acres.

Of these, 829 individual titles involving 16 villages and 9,968.28 acres in Keningau and Tambunan have been prepared which will be handed over to the natives according to their respective districts.

“The State government will continue to fulfil its promise to grant land to the people, especially natives who have made application for years.

“This year, the State Government handed out 933 Native Titles in three districts comprising 60 Native Titles to five villages in Tongod, 339 Native Titles to seven villages in Tambunan and 534 Native Titles to 66 villages in Semporna,” he said.

On State Government’s concern about the people’s wellbeing who live in villages which have long been existence in Sabah’s forest reserve, Shafie said the State Government will present a Bill in the Assembly to revoke part of the 24 forest reserves of different classes comprising 1,637.56 hectares for village settlement.

He said the area will include 90 villages with about 3,800 homes and 20,000 residents in Kudat, Pitas, Kota Belud, Tamparuli, Tuaran, Kota Kinabalu, Tenom, Beluran, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Tawau and Semporna, which would allow the villages to be gazetted as village under the Land Ordinance.

He said the revocation of the area constitutes only about 0.05 per cent of Sabah’s total forest reserve and will not result in significant changes in the total area of the existing forest reserve.

Fourth, Shafie said the government’s observation on the suspending issuance of timber licenses and banned on export of logs to promote furniture manufacturing industry in Sabah and provide new job opportunities as well as to protect the environment, has led to significant increase in local employment.

He said several factories recorded 15 per cent of their workforce come from technical, vocational and tertiary schools in Sabah.

“Furniture factories in Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP) can now operate at full capacity and the State Government has also attracted private investment into the State’s furniture industry.

“For example, furniture factory projects in Kudat and Kimanis, Papar. The project in Kudat will involve collaboration of a local company (Kilang Papan KK Assan) with a China company (Fujian Anxi Jufeng Handicraft) to produce furniture made from Acacia wood which is widely available in the northern region of Sabah.

“Whereas, the project in Kimanis involves an investment value of about RM30 million by Lamitech International Sdn Bhd and this company will now able to produce higher value-added wood products such as scantling – solid; limited or finger-jointed; decorative timber; moulded products and briquettes, due to a more stable and secure supply of raw material,” he said.

According to him, the State Government is in the midst of preparing the Sabah Timber Industry Master Plan which will guide and direct the Government in developing the State’s timber industry from upstream to downstream activities.

Fifth, he said the State Government gives priority and is actively negotiating with the Federal Government to restore Sabah’s rights as agreed in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) which the State is still not satisfied with the progress to date.

However, he said the Federal Government decision to raise the annual payment for Special Grant gradually from RM26.7 million at present to RM53.4 million by 2020, and RM106.8 million over the next five years, is an indication that the negotiation has begun to bear fruit.

Nonetheless, Shafie said the State Government will continue to appeal for a higher rate, since it has not been reviewed since 1960 which was 50 years ago.

“Many may not aware that Sipadan and Ligitan islands have been under the control of the Federal Government through the National Security Council (MKN) since 2003.

“In line with MA63, the State government in early Sept this year has obtained the Federal Government’s approval to return the administration and management of the two islands to Sabah while the regulation on security will remain under the Federal government,” he said.

Sixth, he said the State Government has stopped the practice of extending services of government retirees since May 2019 and has also increased the number of officers and staff in the Public Service to a sufficient and optimal level.

As a result, the government has also filled vacancies and created new positions for critical fields.

“From 2018 to Sept 30, this year, 958 new posts for various grades were created, whereas 685 vacancies and new positions have been filled during the period so as to ensure efficiency and fast delivery of government services in order to intensify the State’s economic growth.

“This move is in line with the intention of the State government to provide more employment opportunities to the people of Sabah and this measure also helps to reduce unemployment, especially among graduates from Sabah,” he said.

Seventh, he said the government has reviewed and improved processes and procedures in various areas to reduce bureaucracy and accelerate approvals for businesses and industries.

For example, the State Government has agreed to replace Central Board to a new entity namely the State Planning Council (SPC) that has a role to formulate high level policy for State’s physical development planning.

In this regard, he said delegation of power will be given to the Local Authority (PBT) to consider and approve Development Plan (DP) through One Stop Centre (OSC) which will be created in six zones with the objective is to speed up the DP approval in order to address delay and bottleneck.

“Through this new approach, the Local Authority will act as a Local Planning Authority, in which power to process and approve development plans will be carried out without having to consult the SPC, provided that all applications are submitted in accordance with government policies. 

“This also means that the DP approval process can be streamlined based on Self-Compliance approach by developers and consultants.

“To explain in detail, application will be submitted to the local authority, which will be forwarded to OSC for further action. If in order, OSC will issue a conditional approval letter within 24 working hours,” he said.

Shafie said applicants are then required to liaise with State and Federal technical departments within three to six months for technical comment and subsequently to comply with technical requirements through the self-compliance method. 

Should the complete DP not receive by OSC during this period, he said a warning letter will be issued to the applicant. 

“If applicant fails to respond within six months or one year (depending on the size of the project), conditional approval given earlier will be null and void. 

“Completed DP will be forwarded to OSC, which meets once a month or whenever necessary, for their final approval,” he said.

Eighth, Shafie said the government has introduced and set Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for five years that covers 10 State Key Results Area that are in line with the desire and aspiration of the 13 thrusts in the State government manifesto.

Among the KPI achievements, he said include the Federal Government's approval to return Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) to the State Government; and the Federal’s approval to review the structure of Pan Borneo Highway projects which was previously implemented by Borneo Highway PDP Sdn Bhd will now be handled by the State Public Works Department (JKR) under conventional method.

Ninth, he said the Government has reviewed several critical and strategic projects for Sabah with the aim to strengthen the Government financial management resources and ensuring that its benefits are fully enjoyed by the people. 

One of these, he said is the termination of outsource contracts for the operation and maintenance of water treatment plants across Sabah. 

“Termination of contracts, taking over of operation as well as management of 58 water treatment plants has saved about RM120 million a year to the State Government,” he said.

Tenth, Shafie said in terms of economy, the State Government has realigned its development policy to be on the right track. 

In this regard, he said the focus will be on industrial sector, mainly the manufacturing sector which will be the catalyst and engine of growth. 

At the same time, he said other key productive sectors such as agriculture and tourism will also be emphasized and these efforts will be continued and emphasized in the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), 2021-2025, to intensify the transformation of Sabah's economic structure to become an industrialized state.

 



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